The Semiotic Hacking

How to unleash the creative and inventive intelligences to favor innovation
The Semiotic Hacking by Thomas Bonnecarrere is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Cover picture : Free Universal Construction Kit by F.A.T Lab (2012), under a CC BY NC SA
Semiotic Hacking logo : Thomas Bonnecarrere (2014) under a CC BY NC SA license
For more information about Creative Commons licenses,
go to:
For Viêt, and for a universal Internet.
'Really good coders build entire universes out of ideas¯
Jamie Allen.
'Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact : Everything around you that
you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it,
you can innuence it, you can build your own things that other people can use¯
Steve Jobs
'Alice came to a fork in the road. 'Which road do I take?' she asked.
'Where do you want to go?' responded the Cheshire Cat.
I don't know,' Alice answered.
'Then,' said the Cat, 'it doesn't matter.¯
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Table of Contents
I. Introduction and initial reflections................................................................................................1
II. The hacking, Free and cypherpunk philosophies as core of the semiotic hacking..................2
1. The hacking philosophy...............................................................................................................2
1.1. Hacking and DIY philosophy...............................................................................................4
1.2. The spirit of exploration.......................................................................................................5
1.3. Ethics and hacking...............................................................................................................
2. The !ree philosophy....................................................................................................................
2.1. "nalysis of the freedo# concept..........................................................................................$
2.2. "nalysis of the !ree soft%are philosophy............................................................................$
2.3. &onfree soft%ares and restricti'e technologies.................................................................12
2.4. (aterial)i##aterial goods and inherent characteristics in relation to the free soft%are
2.4.1. *oods %ithin the physical and digital %orlds............................................................15
2.4.2. +o##on ri'al, non-ri'al and anti-ri'al goods...........................................................1
2.5. !ree
2.5.1. The coloni0ation of the co##on
2.5.2. &e% legal tools to e#po%er potential creators..........................................................22
3. "nalysis of the cypherp.nk philosophy.....................................................................................22
3.1. Encryption and pri'acy as core parts of the cypherp.nk philosophy................................23
3.2. Datalo'e.............................................................................................................................24
4. +reati'e and in'enti'e intelligences..........................................................................................2
4.1. +reati'e intelligence...........................................................................................................2$
4.1.1. The exercise of freedo# o'er the cogniti'e process..................................................2$
4.1.2..(aking .nexpected connections................................................................................21
4.1.3. The fra#ing - refra#ing process................................................................................2/
4.1.4. The social di#ension of the creati'e intelligence......................................................32
4.2. In'enti'e intelligence.........................................................................................................31
4.2.1. 3trategic intelligence..................................................................................................31
4.2.2. In'enti'e tho.ght........................................................................................................32
III. Analysis of the semiotic hacking process.................................................................................34
1. The co#plex o4ser'ation...........................................................................................................34
1.1. !ro# co#plex receptor to co#plex o4ser'er.....................................................................34
2. The context of o4ser'ation.........................................................................................................3
2.1. The de'elop#ent of a fa'ora4le context to opti#i0e the se#iotic hacking.......................3
2.2. * of 4elonging and of reference....................................................................3$
2.3. Intergro.p relations, categori0ation and discri#ination.....................................................31
2.4. 3ocial representations........................................................................................................3/
2.5. The gro.p5s cohesion..........................................................................................................42
2.. 3ocial infl.ences as #ain threat for creati'ity and inno'ation..........................................42
2.$. Inno'ation %ithin
2.1. The sit.ations of gro.p and creati'ity................................................................................4
2./. (odel #atching of the task - net%ork of co##.nication.................................................4$
2.12.(atching of the task - of the gro.p.........................................................41
2.11. The #atching of the task - social
2.12. (atching 4et%een the representation of the task 6 of the task.............................41
2.13 E'al.ation, co#petition and creati'ity %ithin
3. 3ynectics....................................................................................................................................52
4. The #astering of intelligence and ignorance in order to opti#i0e the interpretation and the
creati'e process..............................................................................................................................51
4.1. The net%ork and the net%ork strategy...............................................................................51
4.3. 7.estion 6 ans%er and pre'ision.......................................................................................54
4.4. The fight against the retention of infor#ation...................................................................5$
4.5. The fight against disinfor#ation........................................................................................5$
4.. The #e#ory.......................................................................................................................51
4.$. The technical and legal di#ensions of the #e#ory...........................................................5/
4.1. Internet net%ork and strategic intelligence........................................................................2
5. *lo4al e'ol'ed collecti'e #ind.................................................................................................4
5.1. The gro.ps5 design and f.nctioning...................................................................................4
5.2. * of 4elonging and of reference....................................................................4
5.3. +l.sters and net%orks........................................................................................................$
5.3.1. +l.sters.......................................................................................................................1
5.3.2. &et%orks....................................................................................................................$2
5.4. Technical$2
5.5. +ode...................................................................................................................................$2
5.5.1. *lo4al s.pra-ordinal goals and s.perordinate social identity....................................$3
5.5.2. of the net%ork and collecti'e intelligence.....................................................$
5.5.3. Ethics, sharing and f.n as core '$/
5.. +ontent...............................................................................................................................12
5..1. 8ia4ility and s.staina4ility as #ain
5..2. The anticipation of potential against the co##ons........................................13
5..3. Doc.#entation and #e#ory to fa'or the cogniti'e appropriation............................14
5..4. The pro#otion of the contents....................................................................................1
IV. The hacking of the semiotic process..........................................................................................!
1. The relation to the o4ser'ed representa#en..............................................................................1$
1.1. ", ' and 'irt.ali0ation 6 act.ali0ation dyna#ic.................................................1$
1.2. The different kinds of o4ser'ation.....................................................................................1/
1.3. The different kinds of relation to the o49ect......................................................................./1
1.4. The di#ensions of the #ind.............................................................................................../1
1.5. The interpreta#en in the se#iotic process........................................................................./2
1.. The representa#en5s design and design5s #odel................................................................/3
1.$. The co#plete o4ser'ation and experience %ith a digital representa#en.........................../$
1.1. (etadata to enrich the interpretation of a digital representa#en.......................................//
1./. Decepti'e designs and #ental #odels of a digital representa#en...................................122
1.12. :e'erse engineering as #ean to enrich the interpreta#en.............................................121
1.11. Dark patterns..................................................................................................................125
1.12. ;nline l.res....................................................................................................................12$
2. The reading process.................................................................................................................112
2.1. 3e#antic fields, inference, #ental #odels and reading strategies...................................112
2.1.1. Inference and #ental #odels....................................................................................112
2.1.2. +ode is poetry...........................................................................................................115
2.1.3. Inference and strategic intelligence..........................................................................111
2.1.4. :eading strategies.....................................................................................................11/
3. The na'igation process............................................................................................................122
3.1. The cogniti'e na'igation %ithin the se#antic space........................................................122
3.2. <inear and na'igation..................................................................................121
4. +rystalli0ed and intelligence in the in'enti'e intelligence process.................................12/
4.1. ! intelligence in the creati'e intelligence..................................................................132
4.2. +rystalli0ed and intelligence in the strategic intelligence.......................................132
5. The right to read and %rite anony#o.sly................................................................................135
5.1. :ead-only 83 read-%rite
5.2. The right to read anony#o.sly........................................................................................142
5.3. The a.g#ented reading....................................................................................................143
5.4. ;pen %ork........................................................................................................................14
. =a'e 6 particle d.ality and o4ser'er effect as core parts of the co#plex o4ser'ation and
se#iotic hacking..........................................................................................................................153
.1. The increase of the o4ser'ed representa#en5s #o#ent.#..............................................12
.2. The cogniti'e conflict 4et%een %a'e-like, particle-like and %a'e 6 particle
$. 3erendipity and a4d.ction as #eans to opti#i0e the creati'e se#iotic process......................1
$.1. 3erendipity.......................................................................................................................1
$.1.2. 3erendipity in the cy4erspace...................................................................................11
$.2. "4d.ction as #eans to opti#i0e serendipity and sti#.late the se#iotic process............1/
$.2.1. Definition of a4d.ction............................................................................................1/
$.2.2. The >4ackgro.nd theory? as necessity for a4d.ction...............................................1$1
$.2.3. "4d.ction and o4ser'ation process..........................................................................1$1
$.2.4. "4d.ction and explanation of the p.00ling fact.......................................................1$4
$.3.5. "4d.ction and choice of o4ser'ation.......................................................................1$
$.2.. "4d.ction and social context...................................................................................1$$
$.2.$. The potential negati'e effects of the social en'iron#ent.........................................1$$
$.2.1. The potential 4eneficial effects of the social en'iron#ent.......................................1$1
$.2./. "4d.ction and representa#en5s design.....................................................................112
V. "randing strategies, intellectual property and their hacking................................................12
1. property as #ean to control the indi'id.als5 #ind................................................112
1.1. (ental D:(s, cogniti'e silos and their effects on the creati'e process.........................114
1.1.1. (ental D:(s...........................................................................................................114
1.1.2. +ogniti'e silos..........................................................................................................11
1.1.3. The c.tting-off the creati'e process.........................................................................111
1.1.4. The possi4le #isinterpretations................................................................................1/2
2. @randing strategies and #eans to hack the#...........................................................................1/5
2.1. The 4randed se#iotic process..........................................................................................1/5
2. 1.1. Definition of a 4rand...............................................................................................1/5
2.1.2. @randing strategies...................................................................................................1/
2.1.3. "d'ertising and sponsorship....................................................................................222
2.1.4. The coloni0ation of
2.1.5. The se#iotic loop.....................................................................................................224
2.1.. The co#petition 4et%een 4rands..............................................................................225
2.1.$. (ergers and synergies..............................................................................................221
2.1.1. @randscendence........................................................................................................212
2.1./. <egal strategies to de'elop and protect the 4rand5s po%er.......................................214
2.1./.1. The identity as ri'alro.s reso.rce.....................................................................214
2.1./.2. The #oderated legal strategy............................................................................211
2.1./.3. The lack of legal strategy..................................................................................221
3. The hacking of the 4randing strategy and of the property....................................223
3.1. Hacking the trade#arked representa#ens.......................................................................223
3.1.1. &eologis#s...............................................................................................................223
3.1.2. &a#es of parody......................................................................................................224
3.1.3. Ice+at........................................................................................................................225
3.1.4. :eplicant...................................................................................................................225
4. E#.lation as clear exa#ple of >cross-4rand interopera4ility? in order to hack progra##ed
o4solescence and preser'e a patri#onial........................................................................22
5. The hacking of copyright.........................................................................................................22$
5.1. +reati'e +o##ons...........................................................................................................22$
5.2. +opyleft............................................................................................................................221
5.3. 8ol.ntary p.4lic do#ain..................................................................................................22/
5.4. +opyheart and diso4edience..........................................................................231
. The hacking of trade#ark........................................................................................................232
$. 3ynectiction as #ean to the 4randing strategies and .nleash the creati'e tho.ght.....234
$.1. +ogniti'e e#po%er#ent and dise#po%er#ent...............................................................231
$.2. The pro4le# sol'ing process...........................................................................................23/
$.2.1. The #anage#ent of constraints................................................................................242
1. The creati'e fra#e%ork...........................................................................................................242
/. The search for interopera4ility as #ean to the 4randing strategy and .nleash the
se#iotic process...........................................................................................................................244
12. +ogniti'e capitalis# as 'al.e #ental representations..............................................245
11. +ogniti'e co##onis# as #ean to enrich the se#iotic process............................................24
12. The !ree Ani'ersal +onstr.ction Bit and the achie'e#ent of interopera4ility 4et%een
conflicting syste#s......................................................................................................................24$
13. 3.staina4ility as core principle of the interopera4ility and !ree philosophy........................24/
VI. #onclusion.................................................................................................................................2$1
"nnexe 1......................................................................................................................................25/
"nnexe 2......................................................................................................................................22
"nnexe 3......................................................................................................................................21
"nnexe 4......................................................................................................................................22
"nnexe 5......................................................................................................................................24
"nnexe ......................................................................................................................................25
"nnexe $......................................................................................................................................2
"nnexe 1......................................................................................................................................2$
"nnexe /......................................................................................................................................21
"nnexe 12....................................................................................................................................2/
I. Introduction and initial refections
The purpose of this theory is to develop a new paradigm based on the hacking philosophy, initiated by
the community of hackers from MIT in the 1970's and theorized by Richard Stallman, which can be
fully integrated within the creative and inventive intelligence processes. In other words, we are going
to propose a new paradigm which aims at unleashing these two processes in order to not only
stimulate innovation, but also favor the development of strong mental resistances against potential
abuses likely to weaken it. Our initial interrogations are induced by several analysis coming from the
helds of human sciences (philosophy, linguistics, information-communication, social psychology and
economy), computing, law and quantum physics. These dinerent but complementary domains will
make us consider, throughout our analysis, the world (composed of the physical, digital and psychic
virtual dimensions) as a 'branded and legally framed semiotic system¯. Here are some analysis that fed
our renections to develop this new paradigm :
- Peirce's theory of signs states that all modes of thinking depend on the use of signs. According to
him, every thought is a sign, and every act of reasoning consists of the interpretation of signs. Signs
function as mediators between the external world of objects and the internal world of ideas. Signs may
be mental representations of objects, and objects may be known by means of perception of their signs.
Semiosis is the process by which representations of objects function as signs. It is a process of
cooperation between signs, their objects, and their interpretants (mental representations);
- Some researchers like De Bonis (1996) state in their work that 'everything is cognitive¯, This
paradigm is conhrmed by Bohr (1935) and Heisenberg analysis, who demonstrated that the act of
observation (whether by an individual or a group) necessarily has to be considered to meaningfully
analyze our world;
- Ferguson (2011) depicts in his hlm E·er,thing is a remix the interconnectedness of our creations and
how current laws and norms miss this essential truth. Lessig (2001, 2008) depicts the 'remix culture¯
with the presentation of a new cultural paradigm born with the computer-era and technically inherent
to the digital world, the 'read-write¯ culture. 'Culture is remix¯ is also one of the slogan of innuent
Internet advocacy groups such as La Quadrature du Net to defend remix as a fundamental right for the
exercise of creativity;
- Klein (2000), in her book No Logo, analyzes what she calls our 'branded world¯ by emphasizing the
omnipresence of brands within our societies and the control they exercise on the commons as well as
on our relation to them. She also emphasizes the 'brand, not product¯ economic paradigm ruling our
corporate world;
- Lessig (2001), in 1he Juture oJ ideas, analyses 'the fate of the commons in a connected world¯ and
the threats the increasingly depriving copyright laws pose to creativity and innovation. In Code and
other lavs oJ c,berspaces, he emphasizes the 'code is law¯ paradigm¯. Maurel (2014) demonstrates
that this paradigm has now shifted to 'law is code¯ . Thus, law is now deeply integrated in the code,
and conditions the digital contents as well as the individuals' relation to them. Stallman analyzes the
'smart¯ and 'deceptive¯ connected objects and the risks they represent for individual's rights and
privacy, considering them as 'tools of power¯ likely to alienate the individuals deprived of their
fundamental freedom to exercise control over them. Finally, Assange (2013) states that 'Internet has
become the nervous system of our societies¯, while Zimmerman (2014) emphasizes the fundamental
importance of the network's 'universality¯ in order to preserve this exceptional common good from
control by private entities.
Finally, our renections are fed by Frasca's extended Peircean semiotic model which we will analyze
and enrich. We will thus analyze throughout this work how technical and legal issues are
conditioning/shaping the individuals' relation to the world, and will try to propose a new paradigm in
order to 'hack¯ it via the unleashing of the creative and inventive thoughts.
II. The hacking, Free and cypherpunk philosophies as core of the semiotic
. The hacking philosophy
The main literal dehnitions of the verb 'to hack¯ are
- To cut or hash with repeated and irregular blows;
- To break up the surface.
Richard Stallman (2002), creator of the GNU operating system, founder of the Free Software
Foundation and one of the hrst hackers from MIT, dehnes this philosophy : 'It is hard to write a
simple dehnition of something as varied as hacking, but I think what these activities have in common
is playfulness, cleverness, and exploration. Thus, hacking means exploring the limits of what is
possible, in a spirit of playful cleverness. Activities that display playful cleverness thus have "hack
value". For him, hacking is an idea of what makes life meaningful. He adds that everyone's hrst hack
consisted to walk in the wrong direction on an escalator : 'That is not the way it's designed to be used,
but can you make it work?¯
There are many dehnitions of the hacking philosophy but here are the ones which will structure our
new paradigm.
For Müller-Maguhn (2013), hacking means 'not following the omcial rules but understand the
principles and build something new with them¯.
Stallman emphasizes historical facts at the origin of this philosophy : 'Hackers typically had little
respect for the silly rules that administrators like to impose, so they looked for ways around. For
instance, when computers at MIT started to have "security" (that is, restrictions on what users could
do), some hackers found clever ways to bypass the security, partly so they could use the computers
freely, and partly just for the sake of cleverness (hacking does not need to be useful). He however
operates a clear distinction between hacking and cracking, which refers to security breaking.
can help correct the misunderstanding simply by making a distinction between security breaking and
hacking-by using the term "cracking" for security breaking. The people who do it are "crackers".
Some of them may also be hackers, just as some of them may be chess players or golfers; most of
them are not. Jérémie Zimmerman (2014), co-founder of the advocacy group La Quadratiure du Net
which specializes in the defense of the individuals' liberties in our digital society conhrms this
distinction, stating that 'hackers are builders, not destroyers¯.
The 'Mothership Hacker Moms¯ community (community of Californian mothers sharing 'hack
values¯) dehne hacking in those terms : 'Hacking is a general term that means modifying an object or
idea to ht your own needs. You can hack a recipe, a computer program, or in our case, we hacked a
hackerspace to suit mothers.¯ When asked about the dehnition of hackerspaces, they state : : 'We're a
membership-based, community-operated creative space where do-it yourselfers share tools,
intelligence and community. Hacker/maker culture and values support open source, peer-learning,
shameless amateurism and unabashed dabbling, dilletantism, experimentation and healthy failures in
hacking yourself and your subject.¯
Like Stallman, they operate a clear distinction between hackers and crackers. According to the
Request for Comments RFC 1392
, a hacker is 'A person who delights in having an intimate
understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular.¯
1he Conscience oJ a Hacker (also known as 1he Hacker ManiJesto) is a small essay written on January
8, 1986 by Looyd Blankenship AKA The Mentor. It states that hackers choose to hack because it is a
way for them to learn, and because they are often frustrated and bored by the limitations of standard
Jean Marc Manach (2012), journalist specializing in the Internet and digital technologies, states that
one of the hacking philosophy's core principle is 'act without asking permission¯ (i.e., acting without
being afraid of potential negative consequences such as social sanction). For Harvey
, in 1986, the
word ``hacker¯ is generally used among MIT students to refer not to computer hackers but to building
hackers, people who explore roofs and tunnels where they're not supposed to be : 'A 'computer
hacker¯, then, is someone who lives and breathes computers, who knows all about computers, who can
get a computer to do anything. Equally important, though, is the hacker's attitude. Computer
programming must be a hobb,, something done for fun, not out of a sense of duty or for the money. A
hacker is an aesthete.¯
All these dinerent concepts such as the taste for disobedience to omcial rules in order to explore new
'creative paths¯ likely to trigger new opportunities and lead to potentially unexpected/ unintended
discoveries, as well as the aesthetic dimension, will be fundamental in our analysis of the semiotic
hacking philosophy.
2 'I coined the term "cracker" in the early 80s when I saw journalists were equating "hacker" with "security breaker".
5 httpC))%%%.cs.4erkeley.ed.)D4h)
Key texts structuring the Internet principles and the hacking philosophy are the Hacker ManiJesto
1he cathedral and the bazaar by Eric S. Raymond
, the declaration of independence of the cyberspace
by John Perry Barlow and Code . Version 2.0 by Lawrence Lessig. The hacking philosophy is based on
the culture of amateurism and the learning through experiment and failures to feed the memory and
optimize knowledge of observed systems.
Coupled to Müller-Maguhn's dehnition, hacking will often denote in our work the action of
deconstructing a sign, analyzing and understanding its principles and building something new with it in
order to stimulate the creative and inventive thoughts as well as the semiotic process. Our new
paradigm, which aims at hacking the semiotic process to unleash it and stimulate the creative and
inventive thoughts in order to optimize the exercise of freedom over these processes, will also be
strongly inspired by Zimmermann's (2014) dehnition of the hacker culture : "The hacker culture is
about the power humans have over their creation¯¯
.. Hacking and !I" philosophy
We will integrate in the hacking philosophy the Do It Yourself (DIY) one, for these two philosophies
share common core values and are, as we consider, intrinsically bound.
According to Wolf & McQuitty (2011), the Do It Yourself is the method of building, modifying
something without the aid of experts or professionals. They describe DIY as behaviors where
"individuals engage raw and semi-raw materials and component parts to produce, transform, or
reconstruct material possessions, including those drawn from the natural environment (e.g.,
landscaping)". A DIY behavior can be triggered by various motivations previously categorized as
marketplace motivations (economic benehts, lack of product availability, lack of product quality, need
for customization), and identity enhancement (craftsmanship, empowerment, community seeking,
According to Wikipedia
, 'The DIY ethics refers to the ethic of self-sumciency through completing
tasks without the aid of a paid expert. The DIY ethics promotes the idea that anyone is capable of
performing a variety of tasks rather than relying on paid specialists. The DIY ethic requires that the
adherent seeks out the knowledge required to complete a given task. Central to the ethic is the
empowerment of individuals and communities, encouraging the employment of alternative approaches
when faced with bureaucratic or societal obstacles to achieving their objectives.¯
These two philosophies thus share in common core values such as :
- The search for creativity fed by empowerment, autonomy via self-sumciency and independence from
private entities likely to exercise a closed and centralized control;
- A sense of initiative similar to the 'act without asking permission¯ paradigm as well as a disinhibited
approach toward the exploration, creative and inventive processes (i.e., ideology linked to
amateurism), thus empiric experience as true source of knowledge and value within the creative and
inventive processes;
- They both thrive in a favorable creative framework
, i.e., in openness and freedom. Free
technologies and common goods (as core parts of the Free philosophy we are about to analyze) are
thus considered, both for lots of hackers and DIYers as a good mean to favor autonomy and
independence (i.e., self-sumciency) and favor the individual or collective exercise of freedom,
creativity and inventiveness. They also both contribute to stimulate the individuals' creative and
inventive thoughts.
.#. The spirit of e$ploration
Patrice Franceschi (2013), French explorer and adventurer, dehnes the true meaning of the
exploration spirit
. For him, what dehnes it are the taste for freedom and knowledge, a will of non-
conformism and an ability to take risks (which inherently induces, from our point of view, the ability
to endorse and accept their responsibility). This spirit can animate philosophers, such as Kant who
never left its city of Königsberg but who achieved a copernician revolution of the thought by writing
its Criticism oJ the pure reason. The spirit of adventure is thus not synonymous with exoticism. The
courage necessary to think and tell the world the great philosophers invent does not have to be
underestimated, as well as the spirit of adventure they demonstrate. He then emphasizes the concept
of arété
, intrinsically bound to the spirit of adventure and exploration, whose virtues are : the taste of
freedom and knowledge, a willingness to nonconformity and a risk capacity. Brought together, they
dehne the spirit of adventure that drives both sailors, mountaineers or philosophers. Finally, he then
states that in ancient Greece, the highest human potential was knowledge (or wisdom). All other
human abilities derive from this fundamental one. If the arété´s highest degree is knowledge and study,
the highest human knowledge is the knowledge of oneself. In this context, the theoretical study of
human knowledge, which Aristotle called "contemplation", is the highest human capacity and the
means to achieve the highest degree of happiness.
The spirit of adventure and exploration thus hts perfectly the hacking philosophy as dehned by
Stallman, based on the love of exploration of the possible, of uncertainty and originality. Our
paradigm will also place these values at its core. We will thus consider that knowledge is necessary for
the exercise of freedom, which is necessary for true creativity to be expressed.
.%. &thics and hacking
Stallman's analysis always refer to 'ethical hacking¯. For him
, 'Just because someone enjoys hacking
10 We will aanlyze this concept later.
12 From the greek word oprtj, virtue
14 The Hacker Community and Ethics: An Interview with Richard M. Stallman, 2002
does not mean he has an ethical commitment to treating other people properly. Some hackers care
about ethics but that is not part of being a hacker, it is a separate trait. (...) Hacking is not primarily
about an ethical issue. (.) Hacking tends to lead a signihcant number of hackers to think about
ethical questions in a certain way. I would not want to completely deny all connection between hacking
and views on ethics. The hacker ethics refers to the feelings of right and wrong, to the ethical ideas
this community of people had-that knowledge should be shared with other people who can beneht
from it, and important resources should be utilized rather than wasted.

However, he considers that it is something really important for communities, by thinking of ethical
issues in these terms :
The way I reached my conclusions about which freedoms are essential for using software, and
which kinds of license requirements are acceptable, is by thinking about whether they would
interfere with the kinds of use of the software that are necessary to have a functioning
community.¯ We will consider ethics as a fundamental part of the semiotic hacking philosophy,
for we consider that its integration within the creative and inventive thoughts optimizes their
respective processes as well as the mastering of the collective intelligence, which is a
fundamental process to irrigate them. Let's now analyze the Free philosophy Stallman refers
when he talks about 'ethical hacking¯.
#. The Free philosophy
'Freedom has two enemies : oppression and comfort. The second one is the most dangerous¯
Pierre Bellanger
#.. 'nalysis of the freedom concept
Freedom will refer, in our work, to several dehnitions coming from dinerent helds of knowledge :
- The Free philosophy : First dehned and developed in the computing held by Stallman, starting from
1983 with the development of the Free software movement;
- Social psychology : Joule (2011), co-inventor of the 'compliance without pressure¯ theory, states
that the psychosocial knowledge emphasizes that the subjects declared as 'free¯ behave the same way
as those who have not been declared free or who have been declared 'constraint¯
. However, the
simple 'declaration of freedom¯ signihcantly increases the probability to see these subjects 'submit¯ to
the experimenters' requests, in a laboratory as well as in the street. The enects of rationalization (a-
priori adjustment of the ideas to the acts) and of commitment (resistance to change, tendency tpo
action,...) are more pregnant among the subjects declared free than the others. Most of the time those
enects are not observed among the subjects who have not been confronted to this declaration of

freedom. Beauvois (2011) states that 'the only freedom in life is not the one to say Yes. It is the one to
say No¯. These concepts will be fundamental in our analysis of the branding strategies as well as in the
psychological defense strategies, at the core of the semiotic hacking philosophy;
- Assange (2014), on InJormation as Jov and pover, states: 'For self-determination - either as a
group or as an individual - you need true information. The process of being and becoming free is the
process of collectively and individually learning new information about the world and acting on it. The
same process is one of the foundations of civilization. In communities, that means we have to be able
to communicate among ourselves - to pass on our knowledge and to receive that of others.
Information is fundamental for our position of power toward the world around us. A knowledgeable
public is an empowered public is a free public.¯ This paradigm will be complementary to the Free
philosophy which rests upon cognitive, technical and legal empowerment, collective intelligence and
exercise of freedom to transform the world;
- Chomski (1990) states that freedom necessarily requires opportunities to be exercised. We will try to
propose in this work possible means to create new opportunities allowing the individuals to enjoy
freedom by actually exercising it.
#.#. 'nalysis of the Free soft(are philosophy
According to the website
, 'Free software¯ means software that respects the users' freedom
and the community. It thus means that the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study,
change and improve the software. Thus, 'free¯ is a matter of freedom ('free as in free speech¯), not
price ('free a in free beer¯).
According to Matt Lee (2011), campaigns manager at the Free Software Foundation (FSF),
'Stallman's model for software freedom was the 1970s MIT AI
Lab. The social contract of the AI
Lab embodied the principles and benehts of free use and development of software. It is important to
recognize that this is the historical emergence of an (approximately) ideal model rather than a
historical accident or contingency. It is also important to recognize that Free Software is reform with a
dehnite model in mind rather than radicalism with an unknown trajectory.¯
Stallman makes a clear distinction between the 'Free¯ and 'open-source¯ concepts, whom he
considers as an ideological connict. Thus, while open-source software refers to the individual's choice
of commodity (via the possibility for anyone to improve and correct the software in order to beneht
from collective intelligence), Free software refers to the individual's choice of freedom over
commodity. In other words, freedom is a matter of principle, a personal 'ideology¯. A Free software
defender will consider, unlike an individual supporting 'open-source¯ softwares for their intrinsic
qualities that a Free but not rich/powerful program will still be preferable than a rich and powerful
18 In order to waive all ambiguities, we will always use a capital 'F¯ standing for the Free philosophy.
19 Artihcial Intelligence
'nonfree¯ one. Lee (2011), talking about this 'free¯ concept, states : 'Once you have heard that it
refers to freedom rather than price, it calls to mind freedom. The word open never refers to freedom¯.
The four fundamental freedoms composing the Free philosophy are, according to the Free Software
- The right to use the program, for any purpose;
- The right to access and study its source-code;
- The right to modify it and adapt to one's needs, without restriction;
- The right to share it without restriction.
Stallman summarizes the Free philosophy using France's famous devise : 'liberty, equality,
fraternity¯ :
- Freedom : Via individuals' cognitive, technical and legal empowerment to transform the programs
they use;
- Equality : The FSF states that 'Free software developers guarantee everyone equal rights to their
programs.¯ This equality is ensured by the 'universal¯ nature of these programs, i.e., with the same
potentiality of access and participation in their collective open, decentralized and non-discriminating
process. Their development thus rests upon an inclusive philosophy : any skill can be useful for being
part in the communitarian process.
- Fraternity : Via solidarity at the core of the collaborative communitarian development. Alexis
Kaunman (2013), co-founder of the Framasoft community dedicated to the promotion of the Free
philosophy in the French-speaking countries, thus emphasizes that according to the Free philosophy,
an individual using a Free software de Jacto becomes a member of the community gravitating around
a specihc project. A Free program's intrinsic nature/core design thus encourages the unrestricted
sharing of knowledge and solidarity.
Stallman states that the four freedoms granted by a Free software are fundamental to exercise freedom
over it. They are thus necessary for the individuals' empowerment (cognitive, technical and legal
dimensions) via an unrestricted control to prevent abuses and enclosure/alienation to a closed and
centralized source owned by a private entity. This control can be freely exercised both individually and
collectively. The community of users and developers are thus encouraged to work together to control
the programs they use. This collective, open and decentralized control is necessary for the community
to exercise to ensure and sustain the program's viability and sustainability. Stallman thus emphasizes
certain limitations in the individual exercise of control over Free programs. Thus, most individuals do
not know how to program and programmers do not have time to study the source codes of all the
programs they use. They thus need a collective unrestricted control in order to favor the exercise of
freedom. The two hrst freedoms thus empower the individuals with the right to exercise individual
control over the programs, and the last two ones empower them with the right to exercise a collective
21 Stallman voluntarily started by 'Freedom 0¯, in reference to the binary code.
control over it.
The Free software philosophy thus largely rests upon trust in a community. If an individual or a group
does not possess the cognitive skill to fully exercise a power/control over a program (e.g., power to
read and analyze a source code, whatever its language), he can trust other individuals possessing and
exercising it to control the program's viability and sustainability. The open and decentralized collective
intelligence process around the program thus allows to develop a global 'social regulation¯, as anyone
can potentially read the program's source-code and correct, thanks to this total transparency, potential
attempts of abuse (e.g., via the integration of 'malicious features¯ in the code) likely to be socially
sanctioned. Social innuences are thus emciently integrated in the program's design in order to regulate
potentially abusive behaviors toward it, i.e., making it impossible for private entities to corrupt it.
Moreover, the possibility to copy, share and fork the program at any time makes the attempt of private
control/abuse inemcient and useless.
Mohit Kumar (2014), Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 'The Hacker News¯, Cyber Security analyst
and Information Security researcher, gives the example of the Firefox software : 'Firefox is
completely open source, which means its source code is available to everyone and anybody can verify
it and can detect naws. Anyone can verify the omcial Firefox executable (available on the website for
download) by comparing it with the compiled executable version from the original source code (also
available for download).
Brendan Eich (2013), inventor of the Javascript language and CTO of the
Mozilla Foundation, states : 'Through international collaboration of independent entities we can give
users the conhdence that Firefox can not be subverted without the world noticing, and oner a browser
that verihable meets the users' privacy expectations.¯
Chopa & Dexter (2007) analyze the 'FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) phenomenon: 'The
FOSS phenomenon is the subject of numerous political, economic, and sociological studies, all
reacting to the potential for radical change it embodies. These studies focus mainly on four claims.
(.) FOSS is a novel technology for producing software : it "represents a new mode of production--
commons-based peer production" (Benkler, 2002) and is "a critique of existing laws, contracts, and
business practices . . . with the potential to explicitly change the 'political-economic structure of
society¯ (Kelty 2002). Therefore, it is supported by new microeconomic, political, and personal
dynamics that may shed light on other areas of economic productivity and modes of collaboration.
This new mode of production serves as the basis for examinations of its historical antecedents,
parallels from other (sub)cultures, and potential application to other domains of inquiry and cultural
and scientihc production (Ghosh 2005). (.) From the perspective of software engineering, FOSS's
proponents tout the superiority of its bazaar-like development model over the rigid cathedrals of
proprietary software houses (Raymond 2000).¯
For Zimermann (2014), Free technologies constitute fundamental 'common goods of the humanity¯
and are made to last thanks to open standards, open source code favoring the permanent improvement
and creation of derivative versions,... unlike the closed/depriving ones which are designed to be
obsolete in order to favor their users' consumption and dependency. Mastering the technologies (only
possible with Free software respecting the four fundamental freedoms) means mastering our destinies
(not controlled by private entities) in the digital world. This philosophy thus rests upon the individuals'
cognitive sustainability, via the preservation of the pertinence of all the knowledge, experience and
skills acquired with the observed and used object (with manipulation, reverse-engineering,...).
Zimmermann adds that the sustainable design of a Free software allows its users to develop a rich
experience (favored via its unrestricted use) and to keep exploiting/enriching this knowledge. He thus
describes his own personal experience, by saying that he started using Gnu/Linux as operating system
in the 90's and that the dinerent conventional 'inputs¯ to be entered in the terminal in order to 'give
commands¯ to the system and get specihc 'outputs¯ are still the same and have never been changed.
This sustainability thus makes him feel 'gratihed¯, for the useful knowledge he acquired through his
past experience with the system is still valid today. Moreover, the interoperability between the
operating systems based on Gnu/Linux allow the users to switch from one system to another and still
exploit their knowledge and experience acquired with the use of a specihc one.
Let's now analyze the concept of empowerment. Yochai Benkler, in 1he vealth oJ netvorks, states
that 'Internet leads to an empowerment of citizens¯. This opinion is shared by Benjamin Bayart, who
states that while printing allowed people to read, the Internet allowed them to write¯. Rick Falkvinge,
founder of the Pirate Party (world-wide political movement engaged in the defense of the fundamental
liberties in our digital societies) states that'Empowerment is not giving people power, people already
have plenty of power, in the wealth of their knowledge and motivation, to do their jobs magnihcently.
We dehne empowerment as letting this power out." We will distinguish several interconnected
dehnitions :
- Cognitive and behavioral : 'In¯ and 'out¯ phase of Paley's 'informational now¯
, via the ability to
access information and knowledge and enrich it via personal interpretations, as well as benehting from
an open and decentralized collective intelligence. For Bayart, Internet forms true citizens, able to
argue and defend personal points of view and point out mistakes committed by others. In the same
time, its intrinsic nature favors the development of humility, as the open and decentralized nature of
the network can give anyone the possibility to copy, share and archive data, thus potentially anything
an individual can do and say within online public spaces such as forums or blogs. This power can be
used against the criticized individual, who can see his previous public online interventions re-emerge
and be exploited to compromise or contradict him with new public expressions and actions produced.
The Internet and the digital world in general (in correlation with the development of powerful creation
tools) thus generated new possibilities of expression, whether through writing, creating from scratch or
transforming/remixing existing elements/objects, i.e., contributing to develop a new form of culture :
the remix culture (Lessig, 2009). Finally, Stallman (2012) states that Free softwares, by granting the
individuals the four fundamental freedoms, are designed to allow him to modify it without requiring
- Social : With the possibility for anyone to 'take the lead¯ with personal initiatives (DIY philosophy)
23 We will analyze this paradigm later.
24 httpC))'
and the possibility for anyone to enter, quit and re-enter the communitarian process at any time
without altering the global functioning (P2P structure). The individuals can thus, via these new social
conhgurations, change position without compromising the social structure's stability and sustainability,
and adopt new identity using pseudos likely to favor their disinhibition via the encryption of their
identities and actions produced online. These specihcities are likely to enlarge the individuals'
cognitive system by considering new behavioral, social and cognitive possibilities, i.e., favor their
disinhibition and the production of new behaviors. This disinhibition will also be fed by phenomena
such as social support and social recognition (favored by the Internet open and decentralized structure
and the possibility for anyone to easily hnd other individuals, groups or communities that share same
- Technical : Via the freedom to access the source-code of the programs and modify it without
- Legal : Via legal licenses granting the individuals the four fundamental freedoms necessary to
exercise their creativity, inventiveness and control over the programs used and favoring disinhibition in
order to optimize the 'out¯ phase of the informational now;
- Responsibility: Inherently induced by the freedom and the necessity to preserve other's freedoms
(e.g., via the share-alike term).
All those dimensions composing the Free philosophy are intrinsically bound (e.g. the technical
empowerment dimension requires a specihc legal framework and contribute to enlarge the individuals'
cognitive system by making their virtual psychic reality richer, vaster and more complex.
Diversity (with inherent choice) and empowerment are also at the heart of the Free philosophy. These
core values thus strongly encourage the divergence of opinion likely to induce a cognitive connict and
thus innovation, as well as the possibility to choose between dinerent Free programs in order to allow
anyone to select, choose and hts his personal needs (adapted to everyone's needs). For example, an
individual appreciating the use of the Ubuntu program is onered a wide choice, depending on his
personal needs, between a large variety of 'derivative version¯ such as Kubuntu, Lubuntu (for old
computers), Ubuntu Studio (for multimedia tasks),...
Choice, necessary to exercise freedom, is thus fundamental for it empowers people and makes them
decide (i.e., be active) which programs best ht their needs and personal values. For example, an
individual can choose a Replicant mobile OS (administered by a community of developers) instead of
Android (administered by Google), LibreOmce (administered by a foundation) instead of OpenOmce
(administered by a corporation), Firefox (Mozilla Foundation) instead of Chromium (Google) etc.
Benkler (1996) emphasizes two key-concepts which constitute core parts of the Free philosophy
development :
- The 'commons-based peer production¯ : Dehned as the collaborative enorts based on sharing
- The 'networked information economy¯ to describe a "system of production, distribution, and
consumption of information goods characterized by decentralized individual action carried out
through widely distributed, nonmarket means that do not depend on market strategies."
Michie, researcher in artihcial intelligence, highlighted the importance of ethics and Free culture in
the control of computers : 'Computers are becoming powerful and versatile assistants. (.) We
understand the past, to understand the present. We understand the present, to understand the future.
(.). The past is the key to the future. This information and cultural revolution has roots in the free
culture and computing movements of the last decades. A few dedicated men had foresight to
understand the capabilities of the machines they were building. Thanks to their legacy of an ethical
framework for computing, we hnd ourselves in this empowering position.¯
When asked about globalization, Stallman says that 'the world-wide free software community is an
example of benehcial globalization : people share knowledge with the whole world.¯ (.) He adds that
'My goal is that we help each other to live better together. Advancing human knowledge is a part of
this; making sure it is available to everyone is a part of this; encouraging the spirit of cooperation is a
part of this. Those goals apply to various parts of life, but in the area of software they direct one
towards free software.¯ Joi Ito dehnes the 'sharing economy', in which unrelated individuals, often in
remote parts of the world, 'work' together to produce private and collective goods. These dehnitions
thus emphasize the necessity for collective intelligence, which is a core principle of the Free
philosophy and the semiotic hacking.
#.%. )onfree soft(ares and restricti*e technologies
"DRM fails completely at preventing copying, but it is brilliant at preventing innovation"
Cory Doctorow
The Free software movement opposes the 'nonfree¯ softwares, i.e., proprietary programs whose
source-code is not accessible and whose legal license do not grant its users the four fundamental
freedoms to exercise a control over them. As 'nonfree¯ softwares are both technically closed (the
individuals do not have access to the source code of the program) and legally depriving (the
individuals are not granted the four fundamental freedoms), we will always refer to them as
'closed/depriving¯ softwares. This will thus emphasize both their technical and legal nature. These
closed/depriving softwares forbid the users to exercise a control over the technology they are using t is
thus legally impossible to audit/check or modify the source-code. Okhin (2013), hacker and member
of the Telecomix 'collective¯
, thus states that these programs require for their users a 'blind trust¯ to
use them, and can not be trusted. This opinion among closed/depriving softwares is widely shared
among the hackers and the Free software communities.
Stallman emphasizes an important reason for this lack of trust toward these 'depriving¯ programs :
they can integrate in their source-code DRMs, for 'Digital Rights Management¯. However, he prefers
26 We will analyze their complex nature later.
to speak about 'Digital Restrictions Management¯, for these technologies are designed to restrict and
control the users' experience 'malicious features¯, without them being aware of them (for hidden in
their closed source-code). For him, 'Digital Restrictions Management is the practice of imposing
technological restrictions that control what users can do with digital media. When a program is
designed to prevent you from copying or sharing a song, reading an ebook on another device, or
playing a single-player game without an Internet connection, you are being restricted by DRM. In
other words, DRM creates a damaged good; it prevents you from doing what would be possible
without it. This concentrates control over production and distribution of media, giving DRM peddlers
the power to carry out massive digital book burnings and conduct large scale surveillance over people's
media viewing habits.¯
Stallman qualihes these programs as 'defective by design¯as well as 'treacherous¯
, for they both
restrict the users' experience with them and their designers are exploiting the necessary 'blind trust¯
toward these 'tools of power¯ to exercise a control over them (e.g., via monitoring or censoring
contents). He also analyzes the main issues induced by this 'free compliance¯ toward treacherous
programs, which can be considered as 'digital handcuns¯ controlling the users, and as a 'threat to
innovation in media, the privacy of readers, and freedom.¯ DRM only works if the "I can't let you do
that, Dave" program stays a secret. Cory Doctorow (2012), EFF Special Advisor, states : ' Once the
most sophisticated (.) attackers in the world liberate that secret, it will be available to everyone else,
too. Certainty about what software is on your computer is fundamental to good computer security, and
you can't know if your computer's software is secure unless you know what software it is running.¯
In fact, Stallman talks about 'treacherous computing¯ in order to short-circuit marketing strategies
which emphasize a new term, 'secure computing¯, in order to favor trusted relations toward their
closed/depriving systems. For him, it is 'the proponents' name for a scheme to redesign computers so
that application developers can trust your computer to obey them instead of you. From their point of
view, it is 'trusted¯; from your point of view, it is 'treacherous.¯ Closed/depriving hardware is thus
not secured Jor its owner (omcial design) but against its ovner.
(omcious one).
These 'malicious features¯ integrated in closed/depriving programs can thus be used to spy on their
users, restrict them or even attack them with the presence of 'backdoors¯. Backdoors integrated in a
program can allow the program's designer/rights holder(s) to exercise a total remote control over it.
Any malicious features that is not already integrated in the program today can thus be potentially
tomorrow. The FSF (2006) uses clear examples to describe the issues raised by DRMs : 'Would you
ever shop at a book, video, or record store that demanded permission to send employees to your home
to take back movies, novels, or CD's for any reason? Would you buy something that broke when you
tried to share it with someone else?¯
Doctorow (2013) analyzes the DRMs integrated in the Apple products : 'Apple, having committed
itself to preventing users from using their computers in certain ways, must now take on a further and
further-reaching set of restrictions in service of that -- locking down APIs, shipping updates that
downgrade the software, exposing user privacy, breaking core development tools. No end in sight --
not until Apple decides that what you do with your computer is your own business.¯
Maurel (2014) describes the 'DRMs¯ not only as 'digital handcuns¯ but mostly enforcement systems
of automatized application of Law. These programs thus allow the privatization and potentially
abusive censorship, with possible mistakes (e.g. Youtube's ContentID and its several arbitrary
censorships). In other words, they constitute a major threat for the individuals' fundamental rights like
reading or writing. For Ertzscheid (2013), the DRM is the acceptance of a right of control (i.e.
inspection) by the machine. We will deepen these two analysis further in this work. We will also
choose throughout it to qualify closed/depriving and 'DRMized¯ systems (and considering their
intrinsic characteristics emphasized by Stallman) as both 'defective by design¯ and 'deceptive by
Lessig (2001) emphasizes the revolution the Internet network produced for creativity and innovation
thanks to its intrinsic design :
The Internet revolution has produced a counterrevolution of devastating power and enect. The
explosion of innovation we have seen in the environment of the Internet was not conjured from
some new, previously unimagined technological magic; instead, it came from an ideal as old as
the nation. Creativity nourished there because the Internet protected an innovation commons.
The Internet's very design built a neutral platform upon which the widest range of creators could
experiment. The legal architecture surrounding it protected this free space so that culture and
information-the ideas of our era-could now freely and inspire an unprecedented breadth of
expression. But this structural design is changing-both legally and technically.
Intellectual property can thus constitute a major threat in the development of these 'common goods¯.
Stallman thus created, in order to 'hack¯ intellectual property
, a brand new legal license, the
GNU GPL, based on the possibility to beneht from the four fundamental freedoms but also forcing
the users to not deprive others from these same freedom (i.e., share-alike license). 'Finally, every
program is threatened constantly by software patents. States should not allow patents to restrict
development and use of software on general-purpose computers, but in those that do, we wish to avoid
the special danger that patents applied to a free program could make it enectively proprietary. To
prevent this, the GPL assures that patents cannot be used to render the program non-free.¯
As we said, Free softwares make, by essence, these attempts of corruption/privatization dimcult or
impossible. Their design thus allows their respective communities to protect their common goods
against potential attacks from private entities, desiring to exercise a control over them. As the
website states : 'Because it is transparent, free software is hard to use for surveillance. This makes it a
crucial defense against invasions of privacy by the NSA and the world's big Internet and
telecommunications companies. The FSF is building a movement to develop and expand the existing
library of free software tools that everyone can use to make the NSA's job harder. In addition, we are
30 We will analyze this practice in detail later.
continuing to grow the work that we have done for almost thirty years to promote and defend all free
A famous technological paradigm, always highlighted by Free software activists, is 'Whether you
control technology or be controlled by it¯. More precisely, the individuals can choose whether to
exercise their freedom via Free technologies, or 'freely comply¯ to closed/depriving deceptive and
'defective¯ ones. For Zimmermann (2014), we are now at a crossroad, with two possible scenari
involving the Free Vs. nonfree technological paradigms and already dehned by our actual
technological and legal framework :
- A techno-totalitarian society where technology is used to control people; or
- A Free utopia, based on the individuals' empowerment and freedom via the use and mastering of
Free technologies which respects their four fundamental freedoms to exercise creativity and
inventiveness without restriction on an open and decentralized way.
#.+. ,aterial-immaterial goods and inherent characteristics in relation to the free
soft(are philosophy
#.+.. .oods (ithin the physical and digital (orlds
Soudoplaton emphasizes the fundamental principle of the digital world : 'When we share a material
good, it gets divided but when we share an immaterial one, it gets multiplied¯. Schneier (2010)
conhrms this analysis by stating : 'trying to make digital hles uncopyable is like trying to make water
not wet.¯ The physical world, however, possesses inherent constraints making it really hard for a good
to be completely non-rivalrous : physical constraints thus make the acts of copying and modifying
goods hard or impossible (e.g., if complex structure and composition with rare elements,...).
According to Stallman (2012), a digital object, unlike a physical one, is easy to modify if the
individual knows the languages used to code it. The only barriers likely to restrict/prevent this action
are the technical enclosure of the code and a depriving copyright license. Maurel (2012) states that a
physical good (i.e. 'rivalrous¯ nature), once digitized, enters a logic of 'non-rivalry¯ and 'economy of
abundance¯. However, technical restrictions integrated in their code such as DRMs can contribute to
'recreate scarcity¯ among these goods
A physical good is usually owned and controlled by the user. Its designer can thus hardly restrict the
users' experience with it (e.g., a pen maker can not prevent an individual having purchased one of his
product from writing what he wants). However, other constraints apply to it. A simultaneous
decentralized sharing is totally impossible for physical constraints (atoms' characteristics) that the
digital world (made of bits) does not possess.
He then analyzes the dinerence between digital and physical goods in accordance to the Free software
philosophy and its four fundamental freedoms :
- Freedom 0 is generally possessed by physical objects, via their ownership;
- Freedom 1 depends on the good's structure (e.g., open/Free or closed/depriving). The possibility to
reverse-engineer in order to analyze its structure and constitution is however usually respected;
- Freedom 2 (freedom to change and adapt the object) is not easy to exercise, for physical goods do
not have 'source-code¯. They however possess a specihc 'constitution¯ or 'recipe¯, but it can be not
easy to change if the good's architecture/composition is complex. Moreover, some objects, like a chip,
are not transformable without being destroyed. This, unlike digital goods, is not necessarily due to
anybody's malice or fault, but to practical constraints inherent to the physical world's characteristics;
- Freedom 3 is meaningless for physical goods, for the act of copying them is impossible (due to the
physical world's inherent constraints), even if it has been successfully modihed.
%! printing / from bit to atom
The digitization of a physical good processes the transformation of atoms into bits (i.e., entering a
logic of abundance and 'non-rivalry¯) while the 3D printing aims at transforming bits into atoms. A
digital CAM
hle can thus be freely shared and copied (unless designed to not be via a DRM) and be
potentially printed anywhere in the world, as long as the creative framework is favorable (e.g., 3D
printer capable of printing it by respecting its characteristics). The digital hle can thus be considered
as an anti-rival common good (especially if Free legal license and open format) but the printed
physical hles will necessarily constitute a common rival ones (due to their inherent constraints).
#.+.#. Common ri*al, non0ri*al and anti0ri*al goods
Samuelson (1954) in 1he Pure 1heor, oJ Public Expenditure, deJnes a public good, or as he calls it a
"collective consumption good", as follows : "goods which all enjoy in common in the sense that each
individual's consumption of such a good leads to no subtractions from any other individual's
consumption of that good.¯ In other words, it is both non-excludable and non-rivalrous in that
individuals cannot be enectively excluded from use and where use by one individual does not reduce
availability to others.
Rivalry is an economic paradigm describing the characteristics of a good. A good can be placed along
a continuum ranging from rival to non-rival. The same characteristic is sometimes referred to as
subtractable or non-subtractable (Ess & Ostrom, 2006). A rival good is a good whose consumption by
one consumer prevents simultaneous consumption by other consumers (Weimer & Vinning). A good
is thus considered non-rival if, for any level of production, the cost of providing it to a marginal
(additional) individual is zero (Cornes & Sandler, 1986). Non-rivalry does not imply that the total
production costs are low, but that the marginal production costs are zero.
According to Crouzet (2014), common goods are divided into two broad categories
- Limited resources whose ownership equals to a spoliation through space and time. Example : when I
burn oil, I deprive future generations while imposing pollution;
31 +o#p.ter-"ided (an.fact.ring
- Almost unlimited resources whose ownership is meaningless due to is abundant nature.. Example : I
declare owner of the air in a bottle makes no sense because everyone can imitate me.
Physical (i.e., tangible) goods, due to the physical world's inherent constraints we have already dehned,
are rival goods and can be whether durable (e.g., a hammer) or nondurable (e.g., food). More globally,
private ones (which inherently induce property, i.e., potential theft) can be considered as rival goods,
even from the digital world. For example, some digital goods such as domain names can also be
considered as rival ones and induce techniques such as cyber-squatting.
A Few goods are thus completel, non-rival, as rivalry can emerge at certain levels. For example, the
use of a road or the internet network is non-rival up to a certain capacity. If overloaded, its use by new
individuals can thus decreases speed for others. Rivalry is thus now more and more viewed as as a
continuum, not binary category (Fuster Morell, 2010), where many goods are somewhere between the
two extremes of completely rival and completely non-rival.
Fuster Morell (2010) proposes a dehnition of digital commons as "as an information and knowledge
resources that are collectively created and owned or shared between or among a community and that
tend to be non-exclusive, that is, be (generally freely) available to third parties. Thus, they are oriented
to favor use and reuse, rather than to exchange as a commodity. Additionally, the community of
people building them can intervene in the governing of their interaction processes and of their shared
Wikipedia and Free softwares can thus be considered as digital commons. The Internet is also often
qualihed as 'global common¯
. However, Maurel (2014) states that the integration of technical
restrictions in its 'code¯ layer (Benkler, 1996) tend to threaten this nature, as the Free nature of the
code layer is necessary to consider it as a common good. We will analyze this 'law is code¯ paradigm
further in this work. For Raymond (2012), 'The Internet is technically rivalrous in the sense that the
computer networks on which it depends (its 'physical layer¯) accommodate a hnite amount of tramc.
At peak usage times, especially in congested sections of the network, users may receive a degraded
experience; that is, bandwidth-intensive use by a large number of users may mean that many receive
lower-quality service.¯ Leung (2006) quotes from Weber (2004) : "Under conditions of anti-rivalness,
as the size of the Internet-connected group increases, and there is a heterogeneous distribution of
motivations with people who have a high level of interest and some resources to invest, then the large
group is more likely, all things being equal, to provide the good than is a small group.¯ Free digital
common good can thus be considered, due to their intrinsic technical and legal characteristics, as non-
rivalrous and 'abundant¯ (i.e., evolving in the economy of abundance), for can be potentially inhnitely
owned, copied, modihed and shared without altering.
Digital common goods can however be privatized, considering both their 'content¯ and 'code¯. Thus,
a public domain good can be, as we will analyze further, 'absorbed¯ by a private one
, enclosed
within silos (i.e., closed/depriving ecosystems) and 'damaged¯ via DRMs in order to prevent their use,
34 We will analyze it later.
study, modihcation and dinusion. The integration of DRMs in a digital program whose initial intrinsic
nature is common and non-rival induces, for Maurel (2012) an 'artihcial creation of scarcity¯ in a
world whose intrinsic characteristics/principles rest upon the economy of abundance.
We will consider closed/depriving and 'DRMized¯ softwares as 'rivalrous¯ and 'non-durable¯ goods,
for they are designed to be :
- Bound to one single individual or one single device : via 'personal code¯/commercial license
necessary to use it in order to prevent its sharing and collective use/consumption (e.g., if has to be
used within a silo where the individual is clearly identihed and controlled via DRMs). The activation
of the license thus makes it impossible for someone else to use it on another device/account.
- Obsolete : for example, it can be designed to 'lock up¯ after several uses such as a limited payable
demo of a videogame
in order to stimulate the individual's consumption and the commitment toward
the product or the brand it is designed to be interpreted as standing for
DRMs thus not only damage digital goods (according to Stallman's analysis) but also sub·ert them by
transforming their initial intrinsic non-rival nature, as part of the economy of abundance, into private
goods as part of the economy of scarcity, in order for the rights holders to 'artihcially¯ exercise the
same rules they apply in the physical world, based on the economy of scarcity.
Weber developed the concept of anti-rival good, which refers to the opposite of a rival good : the
more individuals share an anti-rival good, the more utility each person receives. An anti-rival good can
be considered as a public good because it is freely available to all (i.e., non-excludable) and non-rival
(its consumption by one person does not reduce the amount available for others). According to Lessig
(2006), a particular natural language meets the criteria as language is an anti-rival good.
softwares can be considered as anti-rival goods for the more these common goods are shared, used
and studied (via a collective audition of the source-code), the more valuable they become for its users,
via the development of an open and decentralized collective intelligence process enriching both its
intrinsic nature (e.g., via the writing of code,...) and its 'informational environment¯ (via the
documentation produced to favor its appropriation and use by individuals,...). These two parts are thus
fundamental for the Free software philosophy (Okhin, 2013) and can only be optimal via a wide open
and decentralized use. For example, the Krita (Free drawing software) core development team states
about the contribution by the Krita community in order to track bugs via an open and decentralized
audit of the program : ' This work is an ongoing process and thanks to your bug reports we spend less
time hnding them and more time polishing and creating features.¯
#.1. Free culture
Free culture is a concept mainly dehned by Lawrence Lessig (2004) in his book Free Culture . Hov
Big Media Uses 1echnolog, and the Lav to Lock Dovn Culture and Control Creati·it,. This cultural
35 For example, the Rayman Legends payable demo was limited to 30 trials, after what the program got 'locked¯.
36 We will analyze it later.
3$ httpC))'2$)n1)la%rence-lessig)do-yo.-floss
and legal paradigm opposes to 'permissive culture¯. Both these cultural and legal paradigms (as well
as the Free software philosophy we have analyzed) are based on copyright. According to the United
States Patent and Trademark Omce (USPTO), 'a copyright protects works of authorship, such as
writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed.
Betsy Rosenblatt (1998), from
Harvard Law School, states that 'the copyright in a work vests originally in the author(s) of the work.
The author(s) may transfer the copyright to any other party if she(they) choose(s) to do so. Subject to
certain limitations, the owner of a copyright has the sole right to authorize reproduction of the work,
creation of a work derived from the work, distribution of copies of the work, or public performance or
display of the work. This right lasts for the life of the author plus hfty years; or in the case of a
copyright held by an entity, for seventy-hve years.¯
Stallman (2012) emphasizes three broad categories of work, that contribute to society in certain ways
as well as his personal opinions about what their legal nature should be :
- Works you use to do practical jobs, i.e., 'functional works¯ : They can be aesthetic, but this aspect is
secondary. They include programs, recipes, educational works, text fonts, patterns for 3D printers to
make useful objects,... These resources have to be free (i.e. respects the four fundamental freedoms);
- Works that present certain people's thoughts, view and testimony : These do not necessarily need to
be free, for they are not used to do a practical work, but to see what certain people think. To publish
modihed version without the author's permission can misrepresent the author (unless makes sure it
represents his opinion accurately);
- Artistic and entertainment works : Their primary function is aesthetic. He states that there are
valuable arguments on both copyright and copyleft sides. Thus, artistic integrity (i.e., moral right) is
likely to be threatened by the work's modihcation. On the other hand, modihcation can be a
contribution to art (i.e., 'remix culture¯), if the author makes a clear distinction between his derivative
version and the original work. For example, Shakespeare and Mozart's work which would have been
forbidden with our current copyright laws.
His view about 'works of opinion¯ and 'artistic works¯ has however been criticized by Masutti and
Jean (2013). For them, 'Never a free license (which deals only with copyright - expression, form) will
authorize a change implemented so that this change anects the integrity of the work. As part of a
work conceived by its author as open and collaborative, modihcation by a contributor is fully
respectful of the work's integrity. However, if the work was focused on a clearly improper
modihcation to the representation that was its author, it would be quite valid for an author to stop it on
the basis of his moral right (the same way he could do in the absence of free license), especially if the
work was used to convey messages clearly contrary to the intent of the author.¯
Thus, according to Rosenblatt (1998), moral right protects the right of any creator to be correctly
interpreted as the author of the work by the public and to not be compromised in reputation and honor
by any 'harmful¯ alteration. It protects against wrong identihcation of the work's author and attempts
to his reputation via the alteration of the work likely to be interpreted as the renect of the author's
personality and opinions. Using a restrictive 'depriving¯ legal license for works of opinion thus seems
meaningless, for copyright law already protects the creators' integrity via the fundamental and
inalienable moral right.
Let's now analyze the opposition between permission and free culture. Permission culture is a cultural
paradigm resting on copyright, where the rights holders' permission is required any time an individual
wants to share or modify a copyrighted work. This can lead to serious restrictions and constraints
exercised on potential creators and strongly leash creativity, by 'cutting on the creative process¯
(Seemel, 2014).
According to Lessig (2004), 'The Internet has set the stage for this erasure and, pushed by big media,
the law has now anected it. For the hrst time in our tradition, the ordinary ways in which individuals
create and share culture fall within the reach of the regulation of the law, which has expanded to draw
within its control a vast amount of culture and creativity that it never reached before. The technology
that preserved the balance of our history-between uses of our culture that were free and uses of our
culture that were only upon permission-has been undone. ¯
Copyright thus leads, for Stallman (2012) a 'war on sharing¯. This statement is shared by other
lawyers such as Maurel or Lessig. According to him, copying and sharing is easy, but they [the right
holders] want people to strop doing it, by proposing many restrictive methods such as DRMs and sues.
This constitutes, according to him, an unjust horizontal and centralized power. Sharing thus has to be
legalized to end this war.
Davis Guggenheim, hlm director, thus states to illustrate the consequences of permissive culture on
creation : 'I would say to an 18-year-old artist, you're totally free to do whatever you want. But-and
then I would give him a long list of all the things that he couldn't include in his movie because they
would not be cleared, legally cleared. That he would have to pay for them. So freedom? Here's the
freedom : You're totally free to make a movie in an empty room, with your two friends.¯
#.1.. The coloni2ation of the common culture
Copyright and permission culture can generate abuses from rights holders, based on the exploitation of
their 'intellectual properties¯. One clear example of copyright abusive use is the 'copyfraud¯.
Mazzone (2006) describes it as:
- Claiming copyright ownership of public domain material;
- Imposition by a copyright owner of restrictions beyond what the law allows;
- Claiming copyright ownership on the basis of ownership of copies or archives;
- Attaching copyright notices to a public domain work converted to a dinerent medium.
He argues that copyfraud is usually successful because there are few and weak laws criminalizing false
statements about copyrights : there is lax enforcement of such laws, and few people are competent to
give legal advice on the copyright status of commandeered material. A clear example of copyfraud is
the Warner exercising an abusive legal control over the 'Happy Birthday to You¯ song, and which has
always succeeded in legally preserving its rights on it, each time obtaining the condemnation of the
accused entities infringing this 'property¯.
Copyfraud is thus, in a nutshell, a strategy of preservation
of control over copyrighted material via the claiming from private entities of stronger rights than the
ones they are actually legally granted.
Lessig (2001) also emphasizes the privatization of the commons before the democratization of the
technologies allowing anyone to easily copy, modify and share cultural works : 'Before the computer
era, the culture belonging to the public domain (common goods) was vast and rich, but could only be
really copied, modihed and shared on a large scale by rich individuals or organizations who could
anord to purchase or rent technologies to copy, modify and dinuse it. The common culture thus could
be truly appropriated by a minority. That induced a massive colonization of the common culture by
private organizations and brands such as Disney, whose hrst successes where all based on the creative
interpretation of public domain tales.¯
Stallman (2013) conhrms this analysis, by emphasizing the fact that the privatization of culture is
exercised by closed and centralized powers. The individuals are thus, according to Lessig and
Stallman, technically empowered by more and more powerful technologies facilitating their creative
expression, but also more and more disempowered from a legal point of view, with increasingly
depriving copyright laws protecting the intellectual properties against 'infringements¯ (i.e., exercise of
creativity) by being used as source of inspiration for future works. This statement is shared by Jed
Horovitz, businessman behind Video Pipeline, who says : 'We're losing [creative] opportunities right
and left. Creative people are being forced not to express themselves. Thoughts are not being
expressed.¯ These strong restrictions and aggressive legal strategies based on copyright protection
against infringements can favor the individuals' internalization of restrictive laws, and generate
cognitive phenomena likely to leash or prevent creativity. We will analyze these phenomena further in
this work. Maurel (2012), thus proposes a change of legal paradigm toward digital goods in order to
'end the war on sharing¯ : consider all digital goods as common goods. We will pursue this analysis
later, by emphasizing creative means to hack the abuses from intellectual property.
#.1.#. )e( legal tools to empo(er potential creators
Considering this serious threat for the future of creativity and innovation, Lessig co-founded in 2004,
with Elric Eldred, the Creative Commons licenses. According to the omcial website
, Creative
Commons enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.¯ Their
free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission
to share and use creative work - on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your
copyright terms from the default of 'all rights reserved¯ to 'some rights reserved¯. The Organization
however explicits the fact that their licenses are not an alternative to copyright : they work alongside
and enable creators to modify their copyright terms to best suit their needs.
The Creative Commons thus does not try to fundamentally reconsider copyright (we will analyze some
attempts later), but to propose what he considers as complementary tools necessary to empower
creators and stimulate creativity and innovation, while sustaining the 'future of ideas¯. He thus tries to
develop a new kind of economy called as 'hybrid¯, where copyright and copyleft harmoniously
cohabit. Talking about his personal opinion about free culture, Lessig states :'The free culture that I
defend is a balance between anarchy and control. A free culture, like a free market, is hlled with
property. It is hlled with rules of property and contract that get enforced by the state. But just as a free
market is perverted if its property becomes feudal, so too can a free culture be queered by extremism
in the property rights that dehne it.¯
Free culture, based on Free legal licenses granting the four fundamental freedoms, thus aims at
empowering individuals and 'ensures that anyone is able to create without restrictions from the past¯
(Lessig, 2004) and more specihcally civil society, toward 'intellectual properties¯ whose rights, owned
by their creators or by the entities having acquired their 'patrimonial rights¯ have been extended in a
way which makes it hard for new creators to exercise their creativity based on these proprietary
resources. The Free culture movement, as well as the Free software philosophy, both aim at 'hacking¯
copyright in order to give more power (i.e., more freedom) to civil society in order to favor their
creative and inventive expression. We will also deepen this analysis further, by analyzing the cognitive
issues induced by intellectual property and the possible means to hack it in order to unleash the
interpretative and semiotic processes and earn back 'psychic sovereignty¯.
%. 'nalysis of the cypherpunk philosophy
Eric Hughes (1993) dehned the basic ideas of this philosophy in A C,pherpunk´s ManiJesto .
Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. .
We cannot expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant us
privacy .
We must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any. .
Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and ...
we're going to write it. ...
According to Julian Assange (2013), 'This movement covers many domains, from reform to copyright
to sharing of information. The cypherpunks thought most of these problems in the 1990s by setting an
early goal to prevent States to monitor communications between individuals. At this time, the
movement was still in its infancy and hardly seemed signihcant. Now the Internet has merged with our
society, to the point of becoming its nervous system, somehow, this movement is taken very
seriously." For Hughes (1993), the "punk" part of the term indicates an attitude : 'We don't much
care if you don't approve of the software we write. We know that software can't be destroyed and that
a widely dispersed system can't be shut down
. Levy (1993) states that "Crypto Rebels"This is crypto
with an attitude, best embodied by the group's moniker : Cypherpunks.
%.. &ncryption and pri*acy as core parts of the cypherpunk philosophy
Encryption constitutes, for cypherpunks, a necessity to preserve the individuals' privacy and exercise
of freedom. For Assange (2012), "A well-dehned mathematical algorithm can encrypt something
quickly, but to decrypt it would take billions of years - or trillions of dollars' worth of electricity to
drive the computer. So cryptography is the essential building block of independence for organisations
on the internet (...). There is no other way for our intellectual life to gain proper independence from
the security guards of the world, the people who control physical reality."

Cypherpunks also strongly defend the usage of Free technologies, for they are the only ones which can
really be trusted, via their possible audit at any time by anyone. Zimmermann (2014) emphasizes that
mathematics (necessary to develop encryption algorithms), possesses the characteristics of a common :
no copyright or trademark can be deposited on any theory or language. This particularity, coupled
with the development of Free encryption softwares such as GnuPGP constitutes, for Zimmermann, a
'light of hope¯ within the globalized surveillance society.
We will emphasize the fact that the
cypherpunk philosophy shares strong connections not only with the Free philosophy but with the
hacking one. Thus, one of its core principle is to understand how the network works and what its
weaknesses are in order to optimize the protection of personal data.
. Its main attitude is also based
on disobedience to omcial rules and on creation as form of expression and protest.
According to Okhin (2012), encryption is necessary, for only way to ensure secure communications by
guaranteeing that only the emitter and receptor can open it and know it is a message (instead of
random numbers observed by an external individual, who do not have the possibility to meaningfully
interpret it). He thus emphasizes the necessity to encrypt communications, and use open and
documented protocols (i.e., Free technologies/standards) in order to be sure of what the programs we
use can do
. He then gives clear examples highlighting the need for encryption in order to protect the
individuals' fundamental privacy : many political dissidents from countries like Syria have been
arrested by authorities after having used closed/depriving softwares such as Skype to communicate
with foreign journalists. The only way we can trust a program is thus for him to clearly know what it is
and what it can do. Closed/depriving programs, requiring a 'blind trust¯, thus can not be trusted.
Zimmermann also emphasizes the importance of encryption for freedom of expression and the
exercise of the hacking philosophy. The level of privacy granted by its use can thus favor the
individuals' disinhibited experimentations within cyberspace, and attenuate the social innuences likely
to leash/condition their behaviors. Moreover, the use of encryption can also allow the individuals to
disrupt/short-circuit the digital system's business model based on his 'free compliance¯ toward the
production of personal data (e.g., metadata and other digital trails left unconsciously), in accordance to
the 'data as value¯ economic paradigm. It can thus decrease the risk of potential abusive control over
his personal online activities and experience by private entities or authoritarian Governments.
Encryption is thus a real necessity for the individuals to truly exercise their freedom online and
unleash their creativity, via a disinhibited expression requiring net neutrality to be optimal. It is also
fundamental to short-circuit the potential attempts of control over personal online experiences by
private entities.
%.#. !atalo*e
Datalove is a concept dehned by Telecomix. Here is the dehnition they give
Datalove is the love of communication. No matter what kind of communication. "Let data now"
is nothing else but "keep communication alive".
Datalove is so exciting! It's all about the availability of data. What people do with it is not the
question. The point is : people need data. Need to get it. Need to give it. Need to share it. Need
to do things with it, by means of it.
Datalove is caring about what makes things possible. After that - here come the dimculties. And
the possibilities. Datalove is embracing the uncertain.
Sadly, old misconceptions and rivaling interests exist and try to hinder the now of
communication, and thus the datalove.
Datalove is about appreciation of being able to understand, perceive and process data altogether
for the enjoyment and progress of all sentient beings. Datalove is creating peace and knowledge
that has thus far been hindered by the obstruction of communication. Datalove is freedom in
practice. Datalove induces the free and no restricted (thus no discrimination nor censorship) of
data. That means within the digital world the free and non restricted now of information and of
communication, whatever their nature.
They thus emphasize the datalove's creed :
Data is neither good nor bad
There is no illegal data
Data is free
Data can not be owned
No man, machine or system shall interrupt the now of data
Locking data is a crime against datanity
Love data
Zimmermann (2014) states that datalove could be dehned as the 'love for the network¯ and its
universal nature. Telecomix highlights via this concept emphasizes the importance to respect the
internet's intrinsic anarchic and neutral nature (i.e., in accordance to its initial design). They state :
'It's a data driven concept. It is about the now of data that is released into the wilderness of the net. If
data of any kind is exposed to the internet, it has to be treated equally from then on. If some data is
meant to be private, it should not reach the internet in the hrst place. There is no delete function in the
internet. This can not be changed. It has nothing to do with datalove.¯
According to Telecomix, 'An important principle (.) is to be a neutral carrier instead of judging and
selecting the data in question. Some of us on an individual level might not like a particular type of
information, media, or idea, but they understand the fact that the restriction of the circulation of any
piece of data, unavoidingly leads to the restriction of the now of all of it. They also emphasize a major
issue induced by the application of intellectual property within the cyberspace : 'it is also important to
understand that "intellectual property" is a logically and morally illegitimate concept. Speaking of
intellectual property is an attempt to force an inherently acorporal substance (data) to behave and be
governed in the manner of physical objects. This cannot work, and whenever it is attempted,
repression and fascism are the logical and entirely predictable outcomes
. In a world of datalove, this
is unacceptable."
Bayart (2013) emphasizes the duty for an internet provider to respect this net neutrality :
'Nevertheless, the legality of the content should not be treated on the network, because it is too
dangerous. Because it leads to solutions of automated police, because it inevitably leads to abuse of
power. Because that is the doorway to the reversal of the burden of proof. Finally, because it
reconsiders freedom of speech¯. He adds that the value of the information passing through the pipes is
huge, as evidenced by the current capitalization of Google, Facebook or Apple. The temptation is thus
great for anyone who own these pipes to take a look at what's going on. Or prioritize particular
content, against remuneration.
Zimmermann (2014), who contributed to the development of the datalove principles, prefers to talk
48 We will analyze the issues induced by'rigid¯ intellectual property applied in the digital world later.
about 'net universality¯ instead of 'neutrality¯, for this word is more meaningful for individuals. Thus,
he dehnes the net universality as the same potentiality of access and of participation to the internet
network. If the network neutrality (technical point of view) is preserved, then anyone can potentially
access contents online (unless censorship is being applied due to copyright infringement) and produce
new ones, i.e., enrich the collective creative and inventive processes.
He adds that the the hackers' duty is to preserve the Internet as a common good, via the defense of
this net universality and of the datalove principles.
The datalove philosophy thus emphasizes fundamental issues inherent to the internet network and its
evolution, :
- The necessity for a neutral/universal internet network, and the dangers from its infringement via the
discrimination of online data in favor of other ones;
- The intellectual property issues we have analyzed likely to threaten the common nature of he
network (code layer) and the exercise of censorship within the cyberspace (content layer).
The cypherpunk philosophy thus defends concepts which are fundamental for the individuals' exercise
of freedom and creativity within the cyberspace. Privacy and same potentiality of access and
participation to the development of a common good are thus necessary for the optimization of
collective, open and decentralized collective intelligence processes as well as the right for anyone to
express themselves renected and made possible by the internet. In a nutshell, we will state that this
movement aims at defending and protecting, via the use of technical measures, the right to 'read and
write anonymously¯
+. Creati*e and in*enti*e intelligences
'Change your thoughts and you change your world¯. Norman Vincent Peale
+.. Creati*e intelligence
We will focus on Bruce Nussbaum's paradigm about creative intelligence, and will enrich it with
other analysis in order to develop a richer paradigm about this key-concept for the semiotic
hacking theory.
According to Nussbaum (2013), 'Creativity is all about making connections and seeing patterns.
It's not a light bulb that goes on in your head. Before that light bulb goes on, lots of things are
happening. Lots of ideas. We need time to step back and make connections between those
things. We need to stop being hyperconnected and deliberately take a moment to be mindful
about what we're doing. 1his requires personal and collective independence and freedom.¯
This dehnition highlights some important points we will correlate with other analysis :
50 We will analyze this concept later.
51 NUSSBAUM Bruce, Creati·e intelligence . harnessing pover to create, connect and inspire, Harper Business, 2013, 368
- The importance of calm and distance to favor renexion, awareness and the creative thinking is,
as Tisseron (2013) states, fundamental both for the thinking and the memorization process;
- The cognitive sovereignty is necessary to exercise freedom.
Let's focus on this second point and try to determine how to achieve and exercise this cognitive
sovereignty, at the core of the creative intelligence process.
+... The e$ercise of freedom o*er the cogniti*e process
Daniel Schneidermann (2013), journalist and media critic, gives his experience about how
independent media achieve their intellectual independence. For him, it is because they do not spend
their time analyzing the mainstream informational now : 'Unlike all his colleagues, Mediapart
not follow diligently, daily, traditional political anairs within the meaning of horse racing.¯
Disconnecting to the mainstream 'informational agenda¯ thus allows them to focus their cognitive
resources on key-topics, and thus optimizes their renexive and investigative process. Not being
prisoner of the agenda setting (MacComb, 1960) with innuence techniques such as 'gloomy
propaganda¯ (Beauvois, 2011) aiming at shaping and conditioning the cognitivo-perceptive system is
thus an emcient mean to earn back psychic sovereignty and develop cognitive defenses about potential
attempts of abuses and control over it. Moreover, strategically overlooking advertisement can favor the
resistance against branding strategies based on the interpretative conditioning and likely to
leash/condition the individuals' creative thoughts (we will analyze it further). Extensions like Adblock
are thus likely, once installed on a web browser, to optimize the navigation and reading processes.
The development of the 'serendip attitude¯ and the emcient exploitation of serendipity
can strongly
stimulate and feed the creative intelligence process. Cognitive empowerment, based on diversity
(favoring choice, i.e., freedom) through rich knowledge and culture ('knowledge is power¯ paradigm)
is also necessary to truly exercise freedom over the cognitive process, via the enriching of the
interpretative possibilities during the observation of representamens. The disobedience to omcial paths
and rules such as representamens' design) is also fundamental. We will analyze how to do it later.
Nussbaum's dehnition allows us to notice some clear connections with two paradigms about freedom
we have already analyzed : Stallman's Free software philosophy, which puts the individual and
collective control at its core, and Beauvois analysis, which emphasizes the disobedience as only mean
to exercise it. We will also emphasize a strong connection with the hacking philosophy. Another
key- paradigm emphasized by Paley (2014), the 'intellectual disobedience¯ will be analyzed further in
this work. Nussbaum then gives this advice to optimize the creative intelligence process : "Find a
creative friend to play with either at work or outside work. Travel. (.) See something that's
dramatically dinerent and think about it. Disconnect every day for 20 minutes and think about what
you're doing and how you can do it better. Think about your creativity and then go back in.¯
Disobedience and exercise of control will thus be considered as fundamental to stimulate and unleash
52 An independent online press organization.
53 We will analyze these concepts later.
the creative intelligence process. The individual has to exercise it by disobeying the omcial
rules/norms (core principle of the hacking philosophy) and develop a resistance against social
innuences (likely to leash/condition his creative thought), while remaining careful about potential
cognitive biases/traps likely to leash the creative thought and freeze the semiotic process. He thus has
to preserve an open-mindedness toward other individuals' ideas and personal attitudes, necessary for
the generation of a potential cognitive restructuring, i.e., innovation. Disobedience will also
necessarily imply the individual's choice of freedom (via the inherent cognitive uncertainty) over
+..#..,aking une$pected connections
As Nussbaum highlights, the creative intelligence is about making connections between ideas. This
will refer, in our semiotic analysis, to the connections between thought-signs, with specihc sign-
vehicles whose consideration is necessary to achieve a meaningful semiotic relation. This process
requires to be optimal the unleashed exploration of new creative paths (outside the omcial ones
already dehned) as well as the development of reading strategies to optimize the production of
meaning. Specihc rules such as the search for interoperability and cognitive practices like
will also favor the optimization of the creative intelligence.
For him, the individual has to be mindful about what he is doing. This will refer, from a cognitive
point of view, to the development and integration of a cognitive awareness (metacognitive process) in
the creative intelligence process. This is fundamental to exercise freedom over his cognitive system
and optimize his resistance against potential cognitive traps as well as attempts of control likely to
leash/condition his creative thought. The integration of new representations/ideas in his semiotic
process is thus likely to trigger new thought-signs and stimulate the creative and inventive thoughts.
He then gives his opinion about the Dell and their strategic mistakes that induced a loss of innuence
within the computing market : 'They don't realize that their creative model wasn't about computers. It
was about everything. If they allowed us to put together the things we wanted to put together, like an
iPhone or another smartphone, it would be wildly successful. They think they are a computer
company, and they're not. They're a creative assembly company.¯
This analysis highlights a fundamental principle which will will constitute the core of the semiotic
hacking theory : the consideration of a potential inhnity of connections between elements to unleash
the creative process.
+..%. The framing 0 reframing process
Nussbaum pursues his dehnition of creative intelligence by emphasizing the framing process :
Framing is a powerful tool of creativity and innovation. Framing is how we interpret the world
and how we engage with it. It's about meaning and understanding, not simply perception.
54 We ill analyze this process alter.
Understanding how we frame enables us to reframe, to change how we see and interpret. That's
the core of creativity. We frame our narratives, the storyline of our lives, how we make sense of
the world and where we place new data and information. We can reframe that narrative. We
frame our engagement with the world as well. We used to be born into a small number of social
engagements-family, village, neighbors. Now we make hundreds, thousands of our own
engagements and frame each very dinerently. (...) Understanding the engagement frames in our
lives allows us to reframe them and create new engagements.
The cognitive framework can constitute, if too rigid, a threat for the creative process. Reframing it
will thus be necessary in order to hght against natural cognitive traps and biases likely to leash or
freeze the interpretative process. These phenomena can thus be developed by habit, strong
commitment likely to induce a crystallization of the attitudes, a choice of cognitive commodity (i.e.,
certainty) over freedom (i.e., uncertainty).
Hillesley (2014) states : 'The idea of free software, as conceived by Stallman, wasn't entirely original
or new. Stallman was not the hrst to give away software, or to be committed to the idea that software
should be free; but Stallman, GNU and the GPL brought a narrative to the concept of free software,
and gave it a unifying story and a purpose that took it beyond its academic origins. Like most ideas
and movements that make a dinerence, free software began on the fringes - and to the uninitiated, was
a shockingly unrealistic idea. Stallman's narrative helped to dehne the meaning of free software for
those who already practiced it, and gave those that followed a set of tools and values against which
they could measure their own relationship to their work, whether they agreed with his ideas or not.¯
The creative intelligence will thus imply the individual's permanent reconsideration of his relation to
the world, in order to stimulate his thought-process and feed his creativity. In other words, he will
have to permanently reconsider his observed environment (e.g., by considering new possible cognitive
and behavioral patterns in his relation to it) in order to keep stimulating his creative process, and
consider new possibilities or potentialities likely to be actualized and enrich it. The hacking
philosophy, with the disinhibited and unleashed exploration of the possibilities, can also optimize this
process. The reframing can thus be favored by the 'thinking outside the box¯ (core part of this
philosophy) and will necessarily require a 'loose¯ cognitive framework as well as the full integration
of the cognitive awareness in his creative process. Other techniques, based on the mastering of
intelligence, will also allow the individual to optimize this process and will be analyzed further in this
+..+. The social dimension of the creati*e intelligence
For Nussbaum, creativity is social : 'When you read books about creativity today, the narrative of
creativity is that it is a brain function or it's a genius thing. It is rare and comes out of the individual.
But when you look at almost all the innovations that are meaningful in our lives today (...), they're all
done by two or three people.¯ This dehnition is, as we will see, pretty close to the 'invention¯
dehnition proposed by Besson and Uhl (2010).
Talking about the classic brainstorming sessions, he states : ' You go to a lot of brainstorming
sessions, you have people throwing ideas out that have absolutely no relation to the specihc topic at
hand. In these kinds of environments, people hold back their best ideas. They're not going to share it
with strangers. (.) We need to replace brainstorming with Magic Circles-places where two or three
smart people who trust each other can come together and play at connecting disparate dots of
knowledge in an open-ended kind of game.¨
This analysis highlights the necessity of an emcient collective intelligence process, whose core
principle rests upon the individuals' disinhibition toward the expression of their personal attitudes and
ideas. The creative intelligence process thus requires an optimized strategy based on :
- Management of ideas : In order to favor the cognitive connict and stimulate the possibilities of
interpretation and the cognitive restructuring.
- Management of antagonisms : In order to preserve the socio-anective climate within the group and
motivation to encourage individuals to be a part of it.
Familiarity and trust between the members of a 'magic circle¯ (i.e., small autonomous groups of
creativity) can thus favor their disinhibition. However, they can also induce potential traps if not well
managed. Thus, these individuals, if too close, might lose their critical and renexive skills, or might
fear to threaten, via the expression of their private attitudes or new ideas, the positive socio-anective
climate. Distant communications can thus favor their disinhibition, especially if encrypted (end-to-end
with full trust between the emitter and receptor as well as toward the technical infrastructure). This
technical process can thus favor the disinhibition, via less fear of being monitored by potential
untrusted third-parties intercepting them (also likely to generate social innuences and leash their
creative expression).We will analyze more in detail how to optimize it later.
The refusal to share new ideas or creative hypothesis
can also come from selhsh goals (e.g., based on
the 'information is power¯ paradigm). This potential voluntary retention of information thus has, to
not weaken the collective creative intelligence process, be transformed into a taste for sharing. The
development of a 'global thought¯ and intrinsic motivation (Pink, 2011) will allow the creative groups
to overcome these natural phenomena. Once again, the hacking and Free philosophy can favor this
strategy of management of creativity. Jérôme Ruskin (2012), founder of the Usbek and Rica
magazine, thus emphasizes that the hacking philosophy has succeeded in reconciliating the individuals'
selhsh and altruist natural needs. The Free software philosophy is also based on the individuals'
motivation through both selhshness (e.g., will to get social recognition,...) and altruism. As Stallman
(2012) states : 'One person can belong to a community and work in a business at the same time.
Nevertheless, there is a fundamental connict between the communitarian attitude and the commercial
attitude. I would not say that the communitarian attitude is good and the commercial attitude is bad. It
makes no sense to aim to eliminate the commercial attitude, because that is simply selhshness, and
selhshness is vital. People must be selhsh to a certain extent, just as they ought to be altruistic to a
certain extent. To abolish selhshness would not make sense, even if it were possible¯.
55 As part of the abduction process we will analyze further.
In a nutshell, the creative intelligence rests upon several key-principles :
- The disobedience to omcial rules;
- The love for unexpectedness and unknown (i.e., 'serendip attitude¯);
- The open-mindedness and the making of connections between potentially any kind of object;
- The collective intelligence (optimized by the mastering of intelligence) as core part of the process.
We are now going to analyze another fundamental concept based on the development and optimization
of the innovation process : the inventive intelligence.
+.#. In*enti*e intelligence
The inventive Intelligence is a concept developed by Bernard Besson, expert in competitive
intelligence and Renaud Uhl, specialist in the resolution of technical problems via formalized
methodologies, and can be summarized as the combination of strategic intelligence and creativity. It is
interesting to notice that this concept was born from the meeting of these two experts and the synergy
between their complementary skills and knowledge.
For Besson and Uhl (2010), 'Strategic intelligence gives the inventive thought questions, informations
and knowledges based on a networked organization. The inventive intelligence transforms ignorance
into proht. They dehne the invention as the actualization of a creative act.
+.#.. Strategic intelligence
The strategic intelligence is organized around strategic control of information in order to detect threats
and opportunities of all kinds. It is a continuous cycle of questions and answers. Finding out what we
do not know and ways to respond to it is the hrst attitude to have to maintain a strong position. It is
also organized around the control of its networks (via the identihcation of all actors innuencing within
and outside the organization), memory (via the identihcation of what is known orally or in writing)
and analysis (how to interpret the information to give them meaningful content and make decisions).
+.#.#. In*enti*e thought
Besson and Uhl emphasize several key-points about this concept :
- Innovation can not live without the association of strategic intelligence and inventive thinking.
Strategic intelligence provides information and validates the concepts generated by the inventive
- Inventive thinking promotes ideas, strategic intelligence ensures their transformation into successful
innovation through the use of all levers available to the organization;
- Inventive thinking is organized around a process : strategic intelligence identihes and brings together
all actors in innovation, whether inside or outside the organization;
- The inventive intelligence, through the combination of these two approaches provides the
entrepreneur an identihcation of barriers to innovation method, a clear vision of the innovation
associated with simple and enective tools process;
- Innovation is not limited to have ideas or collect good information : it is a whole.
Here are core phases of the inventive intelligence concept Besson (2010) emphasizes and dehnes :
- Demystihcation : 'The organization has to develop a thought conducive to the inventive one.
Inventive thought demonstrates that innovations, whether small or big, exist in any domain and can be
produced by anyone.¯ This phase thus aims at favoring the individuals' disinhibition in order to
unleash their creative and inventive thoughts;
- Motivation : 'The organization develops a collective anect, rhythm, imagination, a
recognition/rewarding of everyone's contribution. The collective appropriation will be the hrst phase
of its promotion. Around an idea initially expressed through words, the organization federates all its
teams around drawings, then models to share a collective vision of the project. The idea is a being that
needs to be fed and whose sustainability has to be ensured¯. This phase highlights the importance of
including the individuals in the collective intelligence process, without any discrimination, as well as
the free voluntary involvement in the creative and inventive processes. Intrinsic motivation (Pink,
2011) will be the core of this strategy;
- Organization : 'The organization innovates by developing a competitive intelligence system
optimizing the inventive thought. The organization invents questions and validates answers. The
innovative global process is fed with strategic intelligence and its three coordinated dimensions :
memory, analysis and network¯. This phase emphasizes the question - answer virtuous cycle we will
analyze further;
- Reformulation : 'The organization reformulates its problems or projects. The initial demand is often
a perceived source of solution to a dinerent problem.¯ This analysis emphasizes the need to 'reframe¯
(Nussbaum, 2012) and to 'think outside the box¯, i.e., to develop a global thought toward the dinerent
problems, with interconnections between them in order to favor the potential discovery of unexpected
- Observation : 'The organization observes its immediate environment in all the domains in order to
solve its problems with the possessed means, at low-cost. Simple and low-cost solutions are always
exploitable. The good idea is often a close idea.¯ This phase highlights the importance of the strategic
intelligence in the determination of the creative framework
and the optimization of the problem-
solving process;
- Anticipation : 'The organization anticipates the technological evolutions. It questions the past and the
future of the technicals to anticipate on the future tendencies.¯ This process will concern, in the
semiotic hacking process, the anticipation of the creative framework's evolution (social, technical,
legal and hnancial dimensions) in order to enlighten the current decisions (e.g., decision to postpone
56 We will analyze this concept later.
the reihcation process in the expectation of a future favorable context, allowing to not waste
- Model : 'The organization models its problems to make connections between knowledges and skills.
These methods allow it to make connections between dinerent worlds of knowledge (e.g. nature and
industry)¯. This phase emphasizes the optimization of the creative process via the 'hybridization of
knowledge¯ (Marcon, 2009);
- Fertilization : 'The organization explores the sources of external innovation and favors the fresh
perspectives onered by its skills. It valorizes the new ideas to overcome reticences and worries. An
idea is like a snownake in one hand : vulnerable. Fertilization helps transform the snownake into a
snowball, it strengthens the idea.¯ This process will thus aim at optimizing, via the collective
interpretation process, the transformation and expression of the idea (as 'anti-rival good¯) feeding it
with collective intelligence reading. It will also aim at developing a Free environment conducive to its
optimal transformation and future evolution, i.e., as part of the context (Seemel, 2013) for future
- Promotion : 'The organization exploits its networks and the capacities of its competitive intelligence
to protect and valorize its innovation.¯ This phase, hnally, highlights the importance of the collective
intelligence process in the insurance of the innovation's viability and sustainability. In our analysis, the
objective will be to protect the creations/inventions about potential appropriation and colonization by
private entities. The communication about it thus has to involve a wide community of members in
order to optimize the innovation's visibility and popularity of the inventions/innovations. Social and
technical networks will be used to spread it and make it more visible, attractive, resistant and resilient
(via mirroring and Streisand enect in case of attempt of censorship,...). We will deepen this analysis
Bessona and Uhl's inventive intelligence analysis highlights a fundamental idea : the necessity of the
integration and management of strategic intelligence to optimize the innovation process. The emcient
development and exploitation of the memory, analysis and network, the management of information,
knowledge and ignorances will thus allow to optimize the collective intelligence, at the heart of
innovation. Intelligence (i.e., management of information) is, according to Moinet (2009), a real
culture which has to be fed and exploited in order to optimize the understanding of the environment
and take enlightened decisions. This process shares some important similarities with the hacking and
the Free philosophies, such as :
- The full integration and the management of uncertainty (via the question - answer virtuous cycle) to
stimulate the creative thought and favor innovation;
- The strategy of social inclusion in the collective intelligence process (i.e., anyone can be a part of it,
despite of its position, knowledge or skills);
- The importance of a rich observation and interpretation based on the deep understanding of the
environment the individuals evolve in, in order to exercise freedom;
- A will to innuence this environment in order to exercise a control over it (optimized via the
information and knowledge, necessary to take enlightened decisions and reframe the engagement with
Intelligence and its management will thus constitute the main power to exercise freedom via control
and disobedience. This exercise will be optimized if the social system is autonomous and sovereign
Considering the semiotic process, this practice will aim at enriching the interpretation of
representamens, i.e., giving the individuals more freedom over their interpretation.
III. 'nalysis of the semiotic hacking process
. The comple$ obser*ation
"Others have seen what is and ask why. I have seen what could be and asked why not¯
Robert F. Kennedy
.. From complex receptor to complex observer
Fourquet-Courbet, in A centur, oJ inJuence theories (2010), emphasizes the concept of 'complex
receptor¯, who possesses the following characteristics : historicized, socialized and contextualized.
Frasca (2007) analyzes in his expanded semiotic model the importance of the context of observation
for the observer's interpretation of representamens, via the production of meaning and knowledge
(e.g., via experience) likely to innuence his interpretation of a representational object such as a work
in movement (Eco, 2000).
We will refer in our analysis in this work to a 'complex observer¯, which will qualify the entity who
produces mental representations from an observed representamen (i.e. interpretamen and
interpretant), as emphasized by Peirce and Frasca. We will also consider the complex receptor
characteristics to analyze the individual as observing a branded representamen (i.e. designed by the
brand's owner to orient/condition his observation and interpretation). We will integrate the individual's
social context (whether socially isolated or surrounded) and the potential social innuences (whether
coming from actual 'objective¯ or purely virtual 'subjective¯ sources) in our semiotic analysis.
The observation process we will analyze throughout this work thus involves a 'complex observer¯
who possesses the following characteristics :
- Historicized : The individual has acquired knowledge and experience, produced commitment
(private and/or public) likely to shape/crystallize his attitudes toward specihc objects. The individual's
life is composed of positive and negative (perceived) experiences made of both successes and failures
(whether internally or externally attributed) and of lessons learned from previous experiences likely to
57 According to our analysis of the sovereignty concept.
generate a personal knowledge both at the individual or the collective scale, and potentially managed
via the strategic intelligence process. The individual might also possess a historical relation with a
specihc brand likely to condition his present and future relation to it via the colonization of his
imaginary and mental representations, i.e. of his relation to the world
. This conditioned relation
might moreover be even more pregnant if the individual evolves in a quasi-monopolistic branded
world, where one superbrand (e.g., Disney) controls the major part of his cultural life;
- Socialized : The individual evolves among specihc social groups (of belonging). He might also
possess a formal or informal relation to specihc groups of references. These dinerent social groups are
likely to exercise social innuences on him and induce a cognitive restructuring if cognitive connict or
dissonance, based and depending on the individual's will and desire for his social evolution (change or
preservation of the current social position,...);
- Contextualized : The individual, when observes a representamen, evolves in a specihc context :
social (socially isolated/surrounded,...), technical (technical infrastructure) and legal context (with
rules applying to both the individual's social environment and to the observed representamen (e.g.,
with DRMs).
We will also consider the observer's attitudes toward the 'thought-signs¯ generated by the
representamen, for they constitute a major issue in the semiotic process (e.g., likely to be exploited to
orient/condition the individuals' attitude and interpretative process). Zanna & Rampel (1960)
emphasize the three dimensions of attitudes :
- Anective : Composed of the predisposition to evaluate whether positively or negatively a specihc
object. Can be conditioned with familiarity and unconscious innuence techniques such as evaluative
- Cognitive : Composed of the beliefs and/or knowledge the individual possesses about the object.
Fourquet-Courbet (2010) adds that the anective dimension is studied whether as a content of
cognition (i.e. 'hot cognition¯) or as a variable innuencing the treatment of information process;
- Conative : Composed of the way the individual is going to behave toward the object. Can be
conditioned via manipulation (e.g, 'free¯ commitment,...¯).
58 We will analyze this branding strategy and its potential enects later.
#. The conte$t of obser*ation
The context of observation will be fundamental in our analysis. The three fundamental dimensions we
will consider in this context will be the social, the technical and the legal ones. We will try to
demonstrate throughout this work that they are nowadays intrinsically bound. We will even state, as we
will see via concrete examples, that they have merged in our digital society to form a global ecosystem
designed to exercise at the same time technical, social and legal constraints, restrictions and innuence
on the individuals observing a 'protected¯ representamen. Here are the main issues which have to be
taken into account (we highlight the fact that we will refer most of the time whether to the observation
of technical or digital representamens) :
- Social environment awareness/perception : Social isolation or surrounding,...;
- Technical environment awareness/perception : Awareness of the technical context, e.g. of the
observation ecosystem's technical characteristics (e.g , observation within a silo);
- Legal environment awareness/perception : Awareness about the rules/laws applying to the context of
observation (e.g., depriving environment);
- Social trust : Trust in third-parties involved in the representation of the observed representamen
(Assange analysis we will analyze later) and in those involved in the audit of the technologies (e.g., in
community involved in the collective reading of a Free software's source code);
- Technical trust : Trust in the technology used to observe the representamen (e.g. if closed/depriving
or Free reading ecosystem,...);
- Perceived identity : Whether identihed or anonymous;
#.. The de*elopment of a fa*orable conte$t to optimi2e the semiotic hacking
We are now going to analyze several methods and techniques likely to be used in order to optimize
creativity in groups and networks involved in the creative and inventive processes. This social
dimension will be fundamental in our semiotic analysis, for individuals or social systems are likely to
induce strong innuences and provoke a change on the individuals' cognitivo-perceptive code, i.e., in
their interpretative process.
For Abric (1971), all the technics of creativity target the same objective : waive the anective, social or
cognitive constraints weakening the creative imagination. The main obstacles to creativity are :
- Individual and collective traditions and customs : It is necessary to break the resistances to change.
Traditions and customs can also weaken or freeze the semiotic process and generate a 'hnal logical
interpretant¯ (Peirce);
- Authority, their weight on statuses and roles : W need to suppress the submission to authority,
whether from a chief or an expert;
- The universe of social and cognitive norms : We need to suppress conformism and uniformity;
- Reason and rules of functioning, its frameworks and barriers : We need to give up the rational
behavior, or overlook it during the phases of creation.
We are hrst going to dehne several fundamental concepts in order to understand our future proposition
of social system whose design aims at favoring creativity.
#.#. .roups of belonging and groups of reference
According to Bailly, a group gathers individuals who dehne themselves as members of this group. It is
this sense of belonging that binds the individual to one or more groups and binds the group together,
and which plays an essential and mediator role between the individuals. A group is not a simple
juxtaposition of individuals but a collective, the principle of grouping is based on a report, symbolic or
real, in which weave community actions and thoughts that guide the behavior of members. It is not
only practical action but also a mental form, through which structure the personal and collective
The members of a group identify themselves and refer to one or several groups. Groups of reference
often refers to concrete groups we already belong or we would like to belong to. These groups serve as
references and guide the thinking and actions of the individual who refers to it. Thus, groups of
reference are groups to which the individual relates personally as a current member or to which it
aspires to reattach psychologically. In other words, those whom he identihes or desire to identify
Bailly adds that we can distinguish the 'active¯ groups of reference, which are a source of standards of
judgment leading to specihc behaviors to the 'passive¯ ones, which essentially allow the individual to
recognize himself as part of a group dinerent from others.
The belonging to a group inherently induces a social identity. Social identity is, according to Fischer, a
"psychological process of representation resulting in the sense of existing as a singular being and being
recognized as such by others. It induces self-esteem and self-awareness ." It highlights the perception
that the individual's self is determined by its group membership. Therefore, intergroup relations are
marked by this sense of belonging.
Dubois (1996) emphasizes several key-points necessary to favor the feeling of belonging :
- Respect and consideration : The perception of respect and consideration has a critical impact on the
sense of belonging. It is therefore impossible to develop a high sense of belonging and mobilize people
if they do not feel considered, respected and valued;
- Clarity of the task : The clarity of the task executed by the members has a positive impact on the
development of a sense of belonging ;
- Stimulating task : Self-realization , i.e., the full use of personal and professional capacity, is an
important factor of motivation and psychological balance. Weinberg and Gould (1997) emphasize that
the creation of the group cohesion requires two dinerent forces acting on the members : attractiveness
and control means. Firstly, the group's attractiveness refers to the individual's wish to have
interpersonal interactions with other group members and his desire to participate in group activities.
Merely being in a group and interact with others provides a sense of satisfaction with group members.
Control means, then, refers to the benehts a member may withdraw from its association with the
#.%. Intergroup relations, categori2ation and discrimination
Tajfel, et al. studied intergroup relations based on the theory of social identity. He thus demonstrated
that relations between groups of individuals merged with this awareness generates a categorization
among the individuals. For Tajfel, categorization is the fundamental process of the intergroup
discrimination phenomena. According to Deschamps, this process is at the origin of the group's
identity. Categorization is the cognitive process to group objects which possess the same
characteristics and share common properties in the same category. Its function is to simplify the
environment, to better control it, because our cognitive capacity is limited. Categorization has two
enects on the perception of objects (Tajfel and Wilkes, 1962; Mc Garty and Turner, 1992) :
- Enect of contrast : The categorization reinforces the perceived dinerences between the elements
belonging to dinerent categories;
- Enect of assimilation : The categorization emphasizes the similarities between the elements that are
part of the same category.
We will emphasize that social categorization has the same functions and the same enects, but its
objects are individuals. According to Autin, social categorization is "a cognitive tool which segments,
classes and orders the social environment and which allows the individuals to undertake various forms
of social action". She adds that social categorization also dehnes the place of everyone in society.
Group membership is referred when individuals dehne themselves and are dehned by others as
members of the group. Social groups therefore provide their members with a social identihcation
called "social identity¯. Social identity is dehned as the part of the individual's self-concept resulting
from the awareness that this individual has to belong to a social group as well as the value and
emotional signihcance it attaches to this membership.
This categorization inherently generates a discrimination in intergroup relations. According to Fischer
(2001), discrimination is a "behavior which results in scornful and vexatious behaviors toward
individuals or groups that are the object of a prejudicial treatment." Thus, 'the prejudice acts as a
framework and discrimination is considered as an operationalization process." His work allowed him
to highlight what he calls the 'minimal groups paradigm ", where he demonstrates that the mere fact
of belonging to a group is a sumcient condition for individuals to produce discriminatory behavior
toward other groups. Thus, intergroup relations are marked by this" sense of belonging ". The natural
process of social categorization will generate in the minds of individuals stereotypes and prejudices.
Stereotypes are, according to Leyens, shared beliefs about personal characteristics of a group of
individuals. For Lippmann, they refer to the simplihed descriptive categories based on beliefs and with
which we qualify other people or other social groups. Stereotypes can produce negative enects. As
some researchers like Leyens emphasize, they would have a direct enect on the group's performance,
especially when they are made salient, activated.
Fischer completes this analysis by saying that the stereotype is characterized by its uniformity while
the prejudice has a larger character assessment that incorporates a set of various stereotypes of race,
gender, religion or social class. If the stereotype is rather descriptive and collective, prejudice would
be more individual and normative. Prejudice expresses the structural character of social
representations , while stereotypes refer to their functionality.
Prejudices constitute an attitude of the individual with an evaluative dimension, often negative , toward
certain types of individuals or groups, based on their own social status. This is an acquired disposition
whose purpose is to establish a social dinerentiation" (Fischer). Rosenberg and Abelson add that
prejudice has the characteristics of any attitude and consists of cognitive and behavioral dimension.
Thus, it is the result of a combination of belief and value.
According to Lewin, a group is something else than the sum of its elements composing it; it is the way
these elements get structured and organized, and not their intrinsic characteristics, that characterizes it.
It thus can not be reduced to the individuals composing it. From that perspective, the group has its
own reality, and forms a system of interdependence.
There are several types of groups that can be characterized according to various parameters. We may
retain, for example, their size, their life (temporary (short -term, mid -term, long-term) or permanent)
and their operating modes. The system of interdependence, specihc to a group at one point, explains
how the group and its conduct, i.e., both the inner workings that action on the external reality. This is
called the 'group dynamic¯ (Lewin, 1944). According to him, the individual's behavior is determined
by both his characteristics and the characteristics of his social environment. This is the
complementarity between the individual, the group and the environment that constitutes the
individuals' 'living space¯ . In this perspective, the group is designed as a dynamic whole. This whole
'groupal dynamic¯ possesses specihc properties. The main one is linked to the group's evolution
depending on the surrounding reality, which is itself evolving . The group is integrated in a social held
with dynamic properties; it is thus in interaction with the environment. This is particularly important
in the issue of changing social representations (Guimelli) and the introduction of new practices
#.+. Social representations
The consideration of social representations will also be fundamental in our analysis. For Herzlich
(1972), "A social representation is a process of mental and symbolic construction of social reality.
This is a (social) picture, meaningful and complex, that integrates individual experience, social
relations and social values " Abric (1996) dehnes them as "an organized and hierarchical set of
judgments, attitudes and informations that a particular social group develops about an object."
According to Jodelet (1989, 1991), they are "forms of social thought, called as from common sense,
shared and socially developed, inducing special knowledge." He highlights hve fundamental characters
of social representations. The content of the social representations can be varied : opinions, images,
beliefs, stereotypes and attitudes.
Moliner oners hve essential criteria for an object to be considered an object of social representations :
- The object must have a social status, importance for individuals. These are often polymorphic
objects, composites, controversial;
- The object must be a matter of communication between individuals. Social communication is the
origin of the formation of social representations. An object that is not a matter of communication and
interaction between individuals in a group can not be an object of social representation;
- The object must be provided with an identity issue. It carries an issue related to group identity and
cohesion. The challenge is identity when the group was formed around the object;
- The object representation must be inserted into a social dynamic. This dynamic involves several
groups that interact to propose the object (social comparison about the object) ;
- The object must not be a subject of scientihc knowledge for the group (it is a naive thought).
Scientihc knowledge is not developed collectively through social interactions as regulatory authorities
control the dissemination and validity of the information about the object.
#.1. The group3s cohesion
Cohesion in a group may designate several elements : the force of attraction, group morale or
coordination of enorts of its members. This may be innuenced by several factors :
- Homogeneity : The group members are attracted to beneht people of equivalent status. Status
dinerences show dinerences of interest and reduce the level of adherence to group (Adams);
- External threat : The threat helps a group to clarify its objectives and encourages its members to
work together toward a common goal (Stein);
- The intergroup competition increases cohesion, while intragroup competition decreases it.
#.4. Social infuences as main threat for creati*ity and inno*ation
The main threats are constituted by the natural social innuences within groups, and its dinerent
processes of attitude change due to them (emphasized by Kelman, 1953) likely to leash/weaken the
cognitive connict, i.e., the innovation process :
- Conformism : Can be said to occur when an individual hopes to achieve a favorable reaction from
another person or group. He adopts the induced behavior not because he believes in its content but
because he hopes to gain specihc reward or approval and avoid specihc punishment or disapproval by
conforming. Thus the satisfaction derived from compliance is due to the social enect of accepting
- Identihcation : Can be said when an individual accepts innuence because he wants to achieve a self-
dehning relationship to a persona or a group. It occurs when people take on the views of others both
publicly and privately. The individual actually believes in the responses he adopts through
identihcation. He adopts the induced behavior because it is associated with the desired relationship.
Identihcation however constitutes a superhcial innuence : it does not reach the system of beliefs and
lasts as long as the source remains attractive;
- Internalization : Can be said to occur when an individual accepts the innuence because the content of
the induced behavior (the ideas and actions of which it is composed) is intrinsically rewarding. He
adopts the induced behavior because it is congruent with his value system.
We will also emphasize the groupal thought (Moscovici, 1963), dehned as the individuals' undisclosed
fear of breaking their group's consensus (i.e., the socio-anective climate), whether if they wish it to
succeed and fulhll its objectives (for any kind of reasons, whether strategic, anective,...) or if they do
not want to take any risk by exposing their personal opinion about the group's attitudes or
behaviors/actions. This natural phenomenon, if not managed, can constitute a serious threat for
creativity and innovation.
#.5. Inno*ation (ithin groups
The 'magic circles¯, as core part of Nussbaum's creative intelligence concept, induce the development
and management of small creative groups. For Lewin, the group can be the support or the facilitator of
change. Let's thus focus on the dinerent issues and opportunities (thanks to several studies led on this
problematic) that can be exploited within social groups in order to develop a richer understanding of
the creative and innovation processes, as well as means to favor them.
Nemeth and Wachtler (1983) emphasized the following facts :
- The subjects confronted to a minority give more new just answers than those confronted to a
- The subjects confronted to a minority give more new ideas (whether right or wrong) than other
groups placed in other situations;
- The majority situations induce a higher degree of dissatisfaction, of embarrassment and of
frustration than in the minority ones.
Their experiment demonstrated that the majority and minority innuences rest on two distinct
processes :
- The majority is really emcient to attract the subjects to just solutions they propose, i.e., to a strict
conformism. However, if the minority less induces this kind of behavior, it allows a decentration and
analysis that takes the dinerent opinions into account, favoring the production of new solutions.
- The presence of a constant and active minority within a group has to be considered as a factor
favoring the group's creativity. Those results highlight the ones obtained by Moscovici and Lage
(1978) showing that the minority innuence is way stronger in contexts where the norm is the search
for originality rather than 'objectivity¯.
Let's now focus on the norms which determine the judgment an individual has on particular objects.
Moscovici (1979) emphasizes three norms :
- Norm of objectivity : Where it dominates, relates to our need to test opinions and judgments
according to the criteria of objective exactitude. It gives prime to majority;
- Norm of preference : Presumes the existence of more or less desirable opinions renecting dinerent
- Norm of originality : Chooses the judgments and opinions according to the degree of novelty they
represent and the degree of surprise they can cause. It gives prime to minority.
According to the norm, the minority will be considered whether as 'deviant¯ (norm of objectivity) or
simply 'original¯ (norm of originality). Mugny and coll. (1981) demonstrated that a minority exercises
a more important innuence in an originality normative framework than in a majority one. Moreover, a
minority adopting a nexible style of behavior exercises more innuence than the ones adopting a rigid
one (Ricateau, 1971; Mugny, 1982).
Mugny (1976) emphasizes two levels of innuence :
- The public social answer (superhcial);
- The cognitive structuring underlying the social answer : System of values, of beliefs, of informations
innuencing (composition), orienting (direction) and structuring the public expression of an answer.
This system, comparable to the immersed part of an iceberg, is really much more important than the
part on the surface. The social answers are the result of the pressure exercised by the source of
innuence and can be whether enective or symbolic (even if not clearly signihed, it intervenes in the
way the subjects apprehend and understand their social environment). Thus, the majority, thanks to
the system of representations within the subjects (ideological pre-construction), possesses a
potentiality of pressure superior to a minority.
Doise and Moscovici (1980) emphasize two kinds of minority sub-groups :
- The nomic : Possesses a clear system of norms and values in opposition to the majority. Its refusal of
the majority norms is not due to its lack of understanding or of adoption of the majority norm, but
amrms its opposition by adopting a distinct position and adopting an alternative norm, a counter-
response answering more narrowly than the dominant norm to its beliefs, to its needs and to the
enective reality. The nomic minority is the one who produces the most emcient innuence;
- The anomic : Lacks personal norms. Its transgression of the dominant norm is only due to its lack,
for example, of psychological or social resources necessary to adopt the majority norms.
Abric (1971) states that this is this nomic or anomic characteristic that makes a minority or a deviant
an active or passive partner in the social relations. Both of them adopt a non-conformist behavior, and
are characterized by their refusal to recognize the majority norm or the dominant answer. However,
Abric (1971) states that a minority needs, to be considered a s a potential source of innuence, to have
a coherent and well dehned view. It also needs to be socially recognized, with its own specihc
qualities, by the majority. It needs to be motivated to obtain, reserve or increase their visibility and
make the majority recognize its existence. It does not have to neglect their enorts to be remarked,
identihed and listened. According to Moscovici (1979), it is in this process of obtaining visibility and
social recognition that we can correctly evaluate the right of the minority to act and provoke changes
in its material and social world, like its capacity to bring others to share its points of view.
These are the two enects the minority innuence can produce on the individuals composing the
majority :
- Modihcation of their verbal answer (public expression) : Conformism and preservation of the
personal perceptive code;
- Modihcation of their latent perceptive code : Internalization and real innuence modifying his
perception and judgment.
Abric adds that the minority innuence is hardly produced during the interaction and gets easier as soon
as the risk to be categorized as deviant decreases. After the interaction, the tacit enorts, rejected to
understand what the minority thinks or perceives bring the subject to think and perceive how the
minority would have done. This happens, for example, when the minority leaves the place, or when the
interaction stops and when the individuals feel they can behave more freely. The minority answer gets
less threatening and brings them useful informations to elaborate (i.e., structure and organize) their
own judgment.
We also notice an enect of private innuence without the enects of public innuence (Moscovici and
Personnaz, 1980; Doms and Van Avermaet, 1980). This means that a minority can change the
individual's perceptions or judgments, without it being perceptible within the group.
In a nutshell, the minority challenges the social consensus by introducing divergence and connict
resulting which can be perceived as threatening, for it produces a disruptive enect and generate
uncertainty. The individuals are confronted to two incompatible judgments in a situation where only
one is acceptable. Whether the individuals will lose their trust in what they see or think, or will
consider the validity of what the other sees or thinks. In both cases, they will feel obliged to
reestablish the consensus. The higher the connict (e.g., if the individual is strongly engaged in his
position), the stronger the individual's obligation to solve it. Thus, the minority questions the social
consensus and increases the uncertainty and doubt among the majority group. Thus, this minority
incites the majority to solve this cognitive divergence/connict, until it reduces the disagreement via
certain concessions.
Abric hnally emphasizes that the only conclusion which really corresponds to the realities of the facts
is that a majority exercises a powerful public innuence but a less private one. Many individuals thus
conform to the common opinion in presence of the group, but then go back to their own private ones.
In other words, the pressure from the minority is more emcient on the private dimension, whereas it is
the contrary on the public one. He adds that the minority innuence can induce a reexamination of the
individuals' judgment/appreciated object. This innuence does not always induce a modihcation of the
public answer, but can be operated at a more latent level, by a deep transformation of the structure of
answer (innuence on the latent structure of the answer via a modihcation of the perceptive code).
'n e$ample of minority infuence / from 6ournalism to 7hacking 6ournalism8
Let's consider a clear example of minority innuence exercised in the domain of journalism having
generated a major innovation. This innuence and innovation however not occurred within a small
group of individuals but among a world-wide community of individuals.
Julian Assange, hacker and programmer who was involved in the construction of one of the hrst public
internet service providers in Australia, developed in 2006 (right before the launch of the Wikileaks
website), a new paradigm about information and journalism in the digital age, based on the
cypherpunk philosophy which represents his core personal paradigm : 'transparency for the powerful,
privacy for the weak¯. Assange thus dehned clear new original norms and values about journalism and
the management of information in order to regulate the political and economic powers.
The creation of Wikileaks aimed at revolutionizing the journalistic domain and the way information is
acquired by those professionals but also by hackers, who know and build the technologies necessary
for this new form of journalism to be exercised. The team behind Wikileaks partnered up with several
renown media worldwide (i.e., it did not adopt an extreme position toward their mainstream majority
'colleagues¯). Its publicized leaks, whose climax was the 2010 leak of 10.000 American diplomatic
cables, largely contributed to develop the movement's visibility and popularity worldwide, while
provoking an important debate about this new non-conformist kind of journalism. Wikileaks earned
more and more social support from journalists and civil society, allowing it to get really popular
worldwide, and the massive adoption of the 'transparency¯ value among the journalists, the civil
opinion and the political power (with the 'open data¯ as new tendency).
The dinerent social recognitions for key-individuals involved in the Wikileaks operations, and more
globally in the leaks of sensitive informations via encrypted systems, strongly contributed to give
credibility and legitimacy to this movement. Assange thus won the Sydney Peace Foundation's gold
medal for championing people's right to know, Bradley Manning won the the 2013 Sean MacBride
Peace Award and Edward Snowden (who exposed via a massive leak of classihed documents the
PRISM scandal), received in 2014 the Pulitzer prize, awarding achievements in newspaper and online
journalism, literature, and musical composition in the United States. It is interesting to notice that
none of these individuals are actually 'omcial 'journalists, but were awarded these high distinctions
for their journalistic practices. We will add that this innovation perfectly renects the hacking
philosophy, which states that omcial statuses do not matter, only concrete actions do (culture of
According to Simon Rogers (2013), journalist at The Guardian, 'Wikileaks changed the vision of the
Some important redactions like The New York Times thus adopted the codes of the new
'datajournalism¯ concept, which can be dehned as 'how journalists are coping with a nood of
information by borrowing data visualization techniques from computer scientists, researchers and
Rogers adds that datajournalism can be considered as 'the new punk.¯
The community of
hackers involved in journalistic practices worldwide emphasized the really important technological
issues traditional journalists did not take into account during their investigations. Thus, the security of
communication is, according to these individuals, at the core of the protection of the sources and the
optimization of the acquisition of new sensitive informations. For example, Telecomix helps
promoting the cypherpunk philosophy by developing technologies and sensitize journalists and
political dissidents in sensitive countries to encryption in order to favor the leak and acquisition of
information, i.e., optimize the investigative practice. According to Assange (2013), sources in
possession of sensitive informations are thus more likely to share them if they are proposed a strongly
encrypted/secure communication systems. For Zimmermann (2014), Assange's informational and
journalistic norms and practices was validated by their concrete application allowing to verify their
viability and emciency.
This innovation was made possible by technologies such as the Internet network and Free software.
Sylvain Parasie (2011) emphasized this innovation coming from the hacker community by proposing
the term "hacker journalist" supposed to gather the computer enthusiasts and journalists in order to
make journalism evolve
. Manach (2013), emphasizes that "In the United States, journalists are
formed to both journalism and hacking. 'Hacker' in the true sense of the term, that is to say, develop
applications, hnd brilliant solutions to technical problems. The ability, when facing a problem with no
obvious solution, to adapt to hnd one."
Wikileaks thus succeeded in operating a merger between two apparently distinct worlds (with specihc
skills, codes and practices) and form a new emcient practice that benehts from the hybridization of
their respective knowledges. It thus not only generated a strong innovation within the journalistic
domain but also succeeded, via the democratization and integration of the hacking philosophy at the
core of this new paradigm, to play a major role in the rehabilitation of this term whose meaning had
been, according to Stallman, perverted by the media in the 1980s.
We will also emphasize another interesting example to illustrate the actions of another active minority
composed of 'hacker journalists¯ : the website. It is an informational website whose
redactors are benevolent and for most part not journalists. This team has decided to work as both
journalists and hackers (according to Stallman's 'playful cleverness¯) by integrating a lot of 'lulz¯
(derivation of LOLs for "laughs out loud") in their articles dealing about really serious topics. This
team, despite of its investigative emciency, is largely overlooked by the mainstream journalists.
However, the informations they acquire and produce as a result of their investigation about focusing on
sensitive topics (e.g., the massive surveillance of political dissidents in totalitarian States made
5/ httpC))'ision-des-redactionsH/52/12EpageFarticle
possible by French companies selling DPI
technologies are often reused by omcial journalists and
redactions, while not attributing them the paternity.
This team is a really interesting case, for its members pretend to be journalists, while having decided
to not adopt the codes of their professional environment. Here is what they state in one of their
Our editorial line is hard to follow, even sometimes we publicly expose our dinerences of
opinion in our publications. ReJets seeks to address information with other methods, an
alternative approach to those commonly used. This approach, these methods are related to the
culture of the network, not necessarily to those of journalism schools. And the network culture
is messy
, libertarian, i.e., based on the freedom of everyone. Thus, our magazine does not have
any hierarchical organization, sometimes messy, but sometimes relevant and often visionary
(.), all without any imposed editorial line. So we alternate shamelessly between investigative
journalism, mood articles, feature articles, and reactions to the news. We are a disparate group
of journalists technicians, activists. We regularly make orthographic mistakes, as an insult to the
profession. We infuse Lulz in the heart of articles about serious topics. We switch from deep
investigation to geek joke.
We have been following tirelessly for almost three years now the issues that concern you. We
produced before everyone several scoops that would not deny (traditional) investigation
journalists. We publish articles on an almost daily basis, and we managed to conquer a fairly
substantial readership. Would the reasons why other journalists ignore us be found in sociology?
Would we break too many codes to be accepted by our colleagues in their silver tower?¯
We consider that this is also a pretty good example, for here the 'omcial¯ redactions, while largely
reusing (i.e., validating) the informations provided by the Renets website, do not omcially support
the 'journalists¯ behind it, with their 'deviant¯ attitudes and behaviors breaking most parts of the
classic journalistic codes via their promotion of a 'disruptive¯ merger between humor and
#.9. The situations of group and creati*ity
Groups of creativity have been studied by Nemeth & Wachtler (1983). Innovation (which refers to the
individuals' change of attitudes/cognitive restructuring) involves phenomena such as minority innuence
(Moscovici and Faucheux, 1963). Three situations of group can be emphasized (Abric, 1971) :
- Situation where the group's performance is highlighted, in an inter-group evaluative and competitive
63 'Deep Packet Inspection¯.
65 Inspired by 1he Cathedral and the Bazaar text as core of the Internet and hacking philosophies.
- Situation where the individual performance is highlighted in an intra-group evaluative and
competitive context;
- Situation where there is no performance (individual or groupal) dimension, and no intra/inter-group
evaluation and competition.
The two kinds of nature of tasks taken into account in the following studies about groups are :
- Problem solving : Requiring a deduction, method, rigorous thought.
- Creativity : Requiring intuition, creativity and invention.
For Abric (1971), the three objective factors of the group situations are : the network, the task and the
social structure.
Kogan and Wallach (1964) demonstrated that when a group composed of individuals with divergent
ideas are brought to discuss situations, it usually chooses more risky solutions than if the decision
would have been made by the dinerent individuals composing it. This constitutes a more favorable
factor for creativity.
Hall and Watson (1970) demonstrated that heterogeneity can favor creativity, provided the socio-
cognitive connicts (induced by the potential inhibition of certain members toward others perceived as
'more skilled¯, blocking of communication due to connicts of attitudes,...) are considered and
regulated in the situation. The explicit consideration of the connict by the group thus induces a better
global performance as well as the discovery of new and original ideas. Their results conhrm the ones
obtained by Triandis (1963) about dyadic creativity : heterogeneity of attitudes and aptitudes of two
subjects in interaction does not favor the performance itself. However, in experimental situations
where the members of the dyad have been trained to communicate with the other, the heterogeneous
dyads are the most creative. Abric concludes that when the stress associated to the group's
heterogeneity is reduced (for example thanks to communication) the positive enects of this
heterogeneity can develop and generate a high creativity. It also emphasizes the necessity of a certain
type of animation within the groups of creativity, centered on the regulation and the installation of a
positive relational climate. According to Collaros and Anderson (1969), what matters is not the real
but the perceived heterogeneity.
#.:. ,odel matching of the task 0 net(ork of communication
The network of communication can be dehned as the whole enective possibilities of communication
between the members of the group, i.e., the whole enective possibilities of communication between
the members of a group.
Flament (1965) introduced the 'model of the task¯ concept. It can be dehned by the whole minimal
communications necessary considering the task' nature. He demonstrated that the performances of a
group are optimal if there is isomorphism between the network of communication and the nature of
the task. In other words, the network of communication does not possess specihc properties, and thus
has to ht the type of task to fulhll.
#.;.,atching nature of the task 0 structure of the group
Faucheux and Moscovici (1960) analyze the relations uniting the structure of the task and the
communications actually exchanged within the group. Two kinds of task are emphasized:
- Task of problem resolution : Supposes an organization and a coordination for requires the
development of a common strategies. The task of problem solving favors the emergence of centralized
group structures;
- Task of creativity : Individual initiatives, non coordinated with others, can develop without degrading
the achievement of objectives, provided they are simply returned and controlled by the group once
they have produced a result. The task of creativity favors a majority of homogeneous group structures.
The group's performance is optimal when adopts a structure of communication matching with the
constraints of the task (centralized for a problem, non-centralized for creativity).
Moreover, each kind of task produces a specihc kind of communication within the group. For
Abric (1971), each kind of task produces a particular kind of communication within the group :
- 'Speech-communications¯ (targeting the whole group, composed mainly of informations) in
situation of problem solving;
- 'Exchanges¯ (interindividual, general and critical).
Faucheux and Moscovici thus emphasized that the nature of the task determines the structure of the
group and their communications, and that the performance is optimum when there is isomorphism
between the task and the group structure. This performance is well-determined by a second system of
matching : the matching nature of the task - structure of communications.
#.. The matching nature of the task 0 social structure
Poitou and Flament (1967) have analyzed the interaction between the social structure and the model
of the task. They emphasized a 'principle of functional matching between the structure of the task and
the group's social structure. From a social structure of a group corresponds a whole of tasks this group
can achieve the best productivity... Otherwise, the matching between the group and its task reinforces
the social structure.¯ This demonstrates the third system of matching, which concerns the task and the
social structure.
#.#. ,atching bet(een the representation of the task < nature of the task
Abric (1971) states that all the previous studies focused on the role of the objective structure of the
task, and thus overlooked an essential dimension of the situation : the symbolic dimension. In other
words, it does not consider the fact that any reality is always appropriated by the individuals, i.e., there
exists only 'represented realities¯ for the individuals or the groups.
He dehnes the representation of the task as 'the theory, or the system of hypothesis, that individuals
elaborate on the nature of the task, its hnality, the means to deploy to fulhll it and the necessary
behaviors for its emciency.
Studies on the representation of the tasks (Abric, 1971) demonstrated that :
- The representation of the task is the key-variable that determines the group's performance. Two
distinct representations of a same task induces two dinerent performances;
- The performance of the group is optimal in situations where the representation and the nature of the
task match;
- The representation of the task, and not its enective structure, determines the structure of
communications and of the exchanges within the group. The 'creativity¯ representation favors the
emergence of non-centralized structures, including in situations where the group solves a problem and
where the nature of the task (cf. Faucheux and Moscovici, 1960), should only generate hierarchical
structures of communication. The 'problem¯ representation favors the generation of hierarchical
structures, even in situations where the group is confronted to an enective 'creative¯ task that should
induce homogeneous structures. The only exception is when the the structure of the task is so much
pregnant that it does not induce dinerent representations of the reality : only in those situations the
nature of the task is decisive. The more ambiguous and complex the task is, the more the
representations are going to play a key-role;
- The representation of the task determines the cognitive approach adopted by the group. The
'problem¯ representation favors the activities of control whereas the 'creative¯ ones favors a more
heterogeneous and original production. The representation determines the kind of dominant activity
within the group, induces the fulhllment of a specihc product b the group;
Those results thus emphasize the existence of a fourth matching system directing the groups
phenomena : the performance of a group will be optimal when the representation of the situation -
nature of the task match.
#.% &*aluation, competition and creati*ity (ithin groups
Glover (1979) analyzed the respective enects of three situations of group :
- Situation where the group's performance is highlighted, in an inter-group evaluative and competitive
- Situation where the individual performance is highlighted in an intra-group evaluative and
competitive context;
- Situation where there is no performance (individual or of group) dimension, and no intra/inter-group
evaluation and competition.
Glover is going to focus on the obtained results on four dinerent dimensions of the studied
performance (hnd all the possible uses of a given object) :
- Fluidity : The number of dinerent answers;
- Flexibility : The number of dinerent kinds of answers;
- The richness of elaboration : The ability to enrich an answer;
- Scarcity : Scarcity of the proposed answers.
He emphasized that each context produces a specihc enect on the dinerent cognitive dimensions of
the task :
- The non-evaluative context favors the richness and originality of the production of the group, but
reduces its nuidity and nexibility;
- The evalutive-competitive context favors the group's nuidity and nexibility, but inhibits its richness
of elaboration and originality;
- In competitive and evaluative situations, the centration on the group induces a higher cognitive
nuidity and nexibility than the one obtained when the group is centered on the individuals. However,
this dinerence of centration does not innuence the processes of elaboration and originality.
%. Synectics
The synectic method comes from the Greek and means "the joining together of dinerent and
apparently irrelevant elements". It has been emphasized by Gordon (1965) and essentially rests on the
conscious and organized use of the metaphor. It aims at optimizing the development of the creative
thought in a group situation, and to be used in situation of problem solving. Gordon considers that the
heuristic use of metaphor is at the core of creativity. The main idea is thus to incite the group to
gather, combine and get apparently unrelated elements closer. Thus, the method, collectively practiced
and exploiting the group's dynamic, aim at 'making the unusual familiar and the familiar unusual ¯. It
requires, to be enective, a fun and relaxing atmosphere, aiming at giving the participants the look and
the attitudes of a child facing reality. For Gordon, 'Game, as a state-of-mind and faculty of invention
is, for the adults, the exact replicate of the attitudes and faculties of a child.¯ He considers that this
disposition has to be cultivated and deliberately exploited to favor the creative activity. According to
Gordon, Synectics research has three main assumptions :
- The creative process can be described and taught;
- Invention processes in arts and sciences are analogous and are driven by the same "psychic"
- Individual and group creativity are analogous.
This method implies the systematic use of three analogies :
- Personal analogy : It consists to ask the participants to identify themselves to an element of the
studied problem and imagine the reactions, behaviors and postures they would develop. For example,
the members of the group might identify themselves to a tree, a windmill, etc;
- Direct analogy : It consists to use a the knowledge of a specihc discipline in another one (similar to
the Besson's 'model¯ phase of inventive intelligence and connection between 'worlds of knowledge¯
to favor creativity). We thus transpose the knowledge from a known domain to hnd the solutions of a
problem within another one. We will illustrate this analogy further in this work with a clear example;
- Symbolic or fantastic analogy : It consists to substitute to a problematic object whether a symbolic
image (e.g., a crystal ball for a psychological test) or oneiric images based on the fantastic an
irrationality. The goal is here to exploit illusion, the poetic language, the dream, in order to favor the
production of new ideas or a new way to apprehend the problem.
Synectics requires groups as heterogeneous as possible, in order to increase the divergence of
attitudes, i.e., the cognitive connict. We will propose, inspired by this method (which shares some
strong similarities with the dinerent philosophies composing the semiotic hacking we have analyzed),
a new cognitive practice based on synectics applied to the semiotic process, which will aim at
stimulating and unleashing it, which we will call synectiction.
+. The mastering of intelligence and ignorance in order to optimi2e the
interpretation and the creati*e process
The strategic intelligence process will be at the core of the semiotic hacking philosophy. We thus
consider it will play a major role in the interpretation and semiotic processes, for its dinerent
dimensions (memory, analysis and network) will allow to feed them and strengthen their emciency.
We are thus going to analyze them in order to develop a richer understanding of its implementation
and the dinerent issues bound to its practice.
+.. The net(ork and the net(ork strategy
The network is a "net" consisting of various members and "nodes", i.e., meeting points. According to
Bakis, "it is a collective situation made of connections and actors." According to Marcon and Moinet
(2007), the network is a "living organism" that has spikes of activity and which can be put to sleep.
We must therefore, as an individual, respect a "biological rhythm" not to degrade its enectiveness.
They also add that the human network allows :
- An economy of means (time, energy, hnance) as the word spreads much better than writing;
- A synchronization of thoughts and actions.
Marcon and Moinet (2010) emphasize that any network, to actually produce benehcial enects for the
group, must be accompanied by a true "network strategy. Thus, "the network strategy is to create, or
more often to activate and direct the created bonds between actors in a project." According to them, it
is important for the project be clearly formulated because from its formulation will depend :
- The people involved;
- The identihcation of environments to integrate (domains, actors ...);
- The identihcation of the key success.
A network allows the members to exchange precise questions and answers. Well exploited within a
group, it allows to optimize the 'mastering of intelligence¯ via the question - answer virtuous cycle.
The network is truly essential to the innovation strategy of the organization, as it feeds the group's
"global thought¯ by creating links between individuals. According to Besson, the more unexpected and
non-conformist these links are, the more they allow to detect and emphasize the ignorances. The links
between individuals are more important than the links between informations. He also highlights that it
can be very wise to maintain good relations with the "warning" networks, i.e., those which always alert
the organization when there are problems.
It is necessary to support the process of creating links between individuals to develop and optimize the
"infostructure", i.e., the "glue" between people, so that people of the network will speak the same
language and understand each other. This can be codes, interests and a common culture. It is also
fundamental to optimize the acquisition of relevant and useful informations to develop networks with
many "structural holes¯
(Burt, 1992) promoting "information benehts" via a better dissemination of
knowledges and skills within the organization.
For Besson, each of us is recognized in several networks who practice a specihc skils and language.
All networks have a collective memory that contains the answers to possible questions. This
emphasizes the fundamental need to federate all the networks around the same core system of values
in order to favor the interconnection, the interoperability and the 'global thought¯ necessary for the
network strategy to be optimal.
It is however important not to develop too much anect-based networks, for it can cause an excessive
convergence of judgment and a standardization of attitudes, which can distort the individuals'
perception and the analytic and renective skills. It is therefore essential to hnd a good compromise
between anect and renection and keep in mind that each individual within networks should retain its
own attitudes. As cognitive connict is essential for innovation, the multiplication of points of view and
the ability of individuals to adopt personal and external perspectives to various problems is necessary
to optimize the analysis and the collective reading practices.
The networks will work better with a nexible management system rather than a directive one. This
analysis is similar to the vision promoted by communities of practice based on shared values and
common interests encouraging individuals to get voluntarily involved on these communities. Members
of a community thus identify closely to them and are bound by the knowledge they share and develop
together. However, some fundamental dinerences are to be considered between communities of
practice and networks.
It is important, to optimize the exchanges within these networks, for the members to adopt a
formalistic prohle. Thus, it is essential to use existing networks in an ethical way and focus on
66 According to Burt, a structural hole is a relationship of non-redundancy between two contacts. Contacts are redundant
if they know they are directly or indirectly in a situation of "structural equivalence", that is to say, they know the same
maintaining good interpersonal relations instead of being focused on results at all costs. This approach
is the requirement to maintain a general trust, real cement of the relations between individuals. A
utilitarian approach is thus counter-productive because it leads to a general distrust among the
members, and quickly degrade the positive results achieved so far.
For Besson & Possin (2001), the analysis is the interface that connects the organization and the
outside world, the link between ignorance and knowledge, between the network and the memory. Its
function is to "criticize and evaluate the organs of acquisition of information¯. It is thus designed to
"excite the memory and the network" and must therefore be in connict with the other two functions.
This connict is necessary for innovation.
A good analysis within a social system is based on the multiplication of perspectives (internal and
external) to expand its analytic capacities. The organization thus has, in order to optimize its analytic,
treatment of the information nuxes and innovation processes, to practice the 'collective reading¯. This
practice consists to incite several individuals (ideally from within and outside the group) to analyze the
same strategic information. It allows to considerably enrich this information by providing several
interpretations of the same problem (which, as Besson notes, 'is a perpetual and imperfect now that
requires relentless additions and comments, and is intrinsically inscribed in a continuous and an
incomplete context¯. For Beson & Possin (2001), 'The strategic intelligence knows that the
information is less worth than the reader, and that the reader is less worth than the readers. The value
of the information will depend on the number of diverse and varied skills which will have access to it.
An information in itself only has a relative value. Read, commented and valorized by a maximum of
men and women, the information will often get an unexpected value.¯
The collective reading also helps the group to generate new ideas with a much higher added-value than
if hey had been produced by a single individual or only within it (which can easily, as we have
analyzed, suner from natural phenomena likely to weaken this necessary diversity of interpretation). It
is thus also necessary, to optimize the collective reading process, to interrogate the members of the
group's external networks. As each member possesses an external network (consisting of friends,
family, colleagues,...), it can be very interesting to 'activate¯ and exploit these 'nets¯ to improve the
group 's intelligence strategy. Just as we need an external perspective to help us see clearly when we
looked too long at a problem, the group must solicit the external view and interpretations in order to
preserve a " multilateral " vision and not be weakened by possible cognitive traps which could damage
its decisional process, i.e, its evolution.
According to Lesca and Caron, developing a process of collective intelligence in the organization
allows it to overcome its natural cognitive biases. Thus, " When an individual is confronted alone to
warning signals (e.g, weak signals acquired by the strategic monitoring practice ), he has to interpret
them. But these signals are fragmentary, incomplete, ambiguous, etc. We know that this interpretation
is highly subjective and will be conditioned by the individual's cognitive preferences (Nioche and
Laroche, 1994). It will also be conditioned by his specihc experience. The creation of a collective
vision, however, will signihcantly reduce the individual's cognitive biases and subjectivity." They add
that "This approach allows to generate a consensus and the collective action. In a sense, creating a
vision accepted by the group and reduce the subjectivities and the biases, are both goals and means.
These are ways to generate the collective and consensual action of members of the organization in
order to favor its successful adaptation to the changes of the environment."
Besson and Possin (2001) state that the strategic intelligence is necessarily a team work, for it allows a
detachment toward an object, a sharpened objectivity and a sharing of tasks. The analysis is situated at
the core of the information cycle, and does not only possess the elaboration of questions and the
validation of the answers. It also aims at reducing the retention of informations to anticipate, to hght
disinformation and build original models of economic analysis. They highlight the fact that
information has to be shared and discussed.
We must therefore keep in mind that the collective reading requires the cultivation of the dinerences
within the group so that each individual preserves his personal opinion and can thus help produce a
real added value in the analytic process. It is important to not try to standardize the individuals'
perceptions, likely to leash their analytical skills and diminish the tremendous human resources
available to the group, which might not be initially suspected. As we said, this dinerence is really
fundamental to bring out new ideas and favor the cognitive connict, i.e., innovation. This analytical
work, such as the memory and network management, will thus allow the group to optimize his
'management of ignorance" process.
According to Besson and Possin, ignorance is, in a group or an organization, fundamental and must be
managed through the practice of strategic intelligence ('The strategic intelligence considers the
ignorance as important as knowledge¯). This practice is necessary because according to them,
"Whoever controls the ignorance and questions holds the power." Controlling the question - answer
cycle within a group or an organization thus allows to generate a real 'mastering of intelligence¯.
A good way to achieve it is to encourage the members to ask questions and produce discovery reports
within the group, in order to create new ideas and attract the attention of other members on new "gray
areas", likely to potentially generate new opportunities. The memory of the organization must
constantly evolve, in order to favor the emergence of constantly new ignorances for the group and
"anticipate future curiosities¯..
Let's now focus on the fundamental question - answer virtuous cycle and the prevision process which
constitute the core of the strategic intelligence.
+.%. =uestion < ans(er and pre*ision
For Besson and Possin (2001), prevision means seeing through time and space. It is always a dialog,
between the one(s) that foresee(s) and the one(s) who receive(s) the prevision. The reception induces a
complex reception and a decisional phase. The decisional phase can be innuenced by phenomena such
as social innuences or intraindividual ones through cognitive biases and other decisional traps.
According to Besson and Possin, the information has a natural tendency to create networks, and is
favorable to all the legitimate or illegitimate connections. The obtained answers do not always
correspond to the asked questions. They can open up new horizons and possibilities. Conformism can
also favor the retention of information, and will have to be fought in order to optimize the strategic
intelligence process. It is a subtle balance between speech and listening, and is not the solitary act of
the one(s) who makes the prevision. It is also the consideration (attention, mobilization of cognitive
resources) and taking into account (integration within the analytic and decisional processes) of a
potentially surprising, unexpected and disturbing fact likely to threaten the cognitive balance/stability,
the socio-anective climate,...
They add that the more original the prevision is, the more it shakes the certainties. To be well
received, the prevision has to get shaped with conformism in order to not look excessive, for excessive
is insignihcant for the common sense. It knows that the unthinkable is unforeseeable. Thus, most
individuals often prefer to keep it secret, even if obvious, in order to threaten the global stability
(social, cognitive) of the group. This analysis also highlights the dinerent natural social phenomena we
have dehned earlier.
The mastering of intelligence necessarily requires to integrate in the analytic process the heavy
tendencies. The consideration of these heavy tendencies in the analytic process is as important as the
detection of the weak ones. They are, according to Besson and Possin (2001), fundamental data,
hardly reversible on the short-term, that we can not overlook in any intellectual, information or
strategic projection. For example, the future of the energetic resources, the rising of individualism,
new ways of life and innovative moral values. However, analyzing the answers to the elaborated
questions is not enough. It is also necessary to anticipate the threats and opportunities, i.e., detect and
interpret correctly the weak signals.
For Besson and Possin, 'foreseeing is mostly seeing through time and space. The strategic intelligence
is a tool of anticipation which allows to foresee the unknown from the known. The anticipation is a
dialog between the one who foresees and the one who receives the prevision. It is both the
announcement and its acceptation, a subtle balance between the speech and the listening.. It has to be
the consideration of the individual's speech which surprises or disturbs.¯
According to these two experts, a weak signal is a written or oral information, allowing to guess a
threat or an opportunity. This is the hrst piece of the puzzle. It is only useful if it is detected and
correctly analyzed on time. They can be found anywhere and in all circumstances. Their acquisition
proceeds most of the time to the intuition and sharp observation and can be favored by the
development of observatories or 'radars¯. For Salmon (1999), 'What we have to detect is the moment
where a tendency weakens, which constitutes the prelude to a new one¯. The capture of the weak
signals announcing this change, as well as the observation of their evolution through time, is thus
The group has to be able to fully integrate uncertainty in its analytic process, i.e., accept the
integration of the informations generating cognitive uncertainty and a disturbance in their
interpretative process. This acceptance for the group is fundamental to favor the potential change of
attitudes and the innovation in the interpretative process, i.e., to optimize the semiotic process and
favor the prevision. It will thus allow it to take more enlightened and emcient decisions and favor its
adaptation process, which inherently requires innovation.
From a semiotic point of view, the interpretation of weak signals will necessarily be based, according
to this dehnition, on a secondness level. Thus, the observed representamen will be interpreted as a sign
being related to an object by a perceived link of contiguity. This interpretation of a weak signal as a
sinsign standing for a potential threat or opportunity can be based on a personal experience and
individual and collective analytic process. The prevision, the interpretation and the decisional
processes will include, in case of disturbing/disrupting fact, the choice of observation (concept we will
analyze further in this work).
It will also require the strategic monitoring practice about the observed representamen's environment
(technical, legal, social, hnancial,...) in order to favor the capture of weak signals and the anticipation
of its evolution. For example, the group can foresee the privatization of a common good (e.g., a Free
software) via its absorption by a private entity by interpreting a detected weak signal about it. This
signal can be, for example, a strong interest this private entity is developing toward the software, e.g.,
by investing in its development which was initially only supported by benevolent. This anticipation can
help the individuals analyzing this signal to take a wise decision, such as forking the program by
exploiting its current permissive legal license in order to ensure its sustainability and avoid its future
censorship, i.e., preserve the possibility to own it and manipulate it in the future. A clear actual
example of signal likely to be interpreted can be, for example, the information stating that Richard
Branson is currently massively investing in the Bitcoin company
For Besson and Possin (2001), the rational and detailed study of a phenomenon reduces the vision and
the perception of the irrational. Rational reassures toward the future, even if we guess this future will
be irrational prevision is only useful if it answers good questions, and asking the good questions is
more dimcult than answering to them. The question - answer cycle deserves renewal and attention.
The strategic intelligence is a dialog which is permanently structured around questions and answers,
and revision depends on the quality and of the renewing of the dialog. The best way to foresee is thus
to elaborate pertinent questions. Dehning the questions consists to organize the objectives and clarify
what we want to know. The strategic monitoring aims at acquiring the answers to those questions.
From this observation, this monitoring, will be generated unforeseen questions, which are often the
good questions.
The management of ignorances also requires the creation, within the memory, of 'informational
blanks¯ (formalized ignorances, unexplored connections,...) likely to attract new informations, answers
an thus questions. The question - answer as well as the problem - solution virtuous cycles both require,
to be optimal, the group's decolonization of its cognitive system (in order to hght against the cognitive
biases/traps) and an empowering environment (technical, social and legal). We will analyze this issue
later. The best analysis is thus the one that generates new and unexpected questions, which will enrich
the process' added value.
+.+. The >ght against the retention of information
The phenomenon of retention of information (i.e., not disclosure/expression of the detained
information) can be induced by social innuences phenomena (e.g., fear to threaten the socio-anective
climate and generating a cognitive connict and uncertainty in the analytic process) we have analyzed,
and induce self-censorship. For example, an individual might choose to not disclose the information
he possesses, even if this information can strongly enrich the group's analytic process, for fear of
misinterpretation likely to threaten his social position, etc. The reluctance to the formalization of the
possessed information (i.e., from oral to writing) can also be induced by the individual's fear of being
tracked, monitored or intercepted by a third-party during the dinusion process.
For Besson and Possin (2001), self-censorship is a disease which threatens the internal network, and a
'self-mutilation¯ for the group or the organization. It is unfortunately permanent and hard to hght.
However, we can emphasize certain means to favor the individuals' disinhibition and voluntary
involvement in the intelligence process :
- The valorization of the transmission of each information, whatever its estimated value;
- The development of a 'culture of intelligence¯ (with the collective intelligence and the strategic
intelligence state-of-mind at its core), a global thought favoring the intrinsic motivation;
- The use of innuence and manipulation techniques such as free compliance to the request concerning
the transmission of information;
- The attribution of specihc social roles in order to favor the individuals' implication in the process;
- The use of encryption for the interindividual communications in order to favor their disinhibition and
active participation in the intelligence process.
Besson and Possin add that the members involved in the memory and network have to search for
information with enthusiasm, but this quest and this zeal do not have to prevent a natural suspicion
toward any information, whatever its origin. This is why the role of analysis is fundamental. Many
actors of the strategic intelligence process possess informations whose importance, valor or even
reality might not be perceived.
+.1. The >ght against disinformation
Besson and Possin (2011) dehne disinformation as a weapon used to make an adversary believe a
certain number of things, in order to make him make bad decisions which go against his interest, but
favorable to the disinformer's. In other words, it aims at innuencing the adversary's interpretation of
his environment (i.e., his reality) in order to favor his 'free¯ engagement (via the decisional process) in
a costly path, which will be likely to favor his self-manipulation via cognitive traps such as the abscons
For Besson and Possin, hghting disinformation requires knowledge, imagination, a sense of the
narrative and the ability to 'prohle¯ the adversary. An attentive reading of all the informations about
him allows to earn experience in order to decrypt the messages and detect the networks of
disinformation. The paths of disinformation are in general more usual and regular than the ones of the
'honest¯ and "uninterested¯ information. For them, 'The true dinerence between information and
disinformation is that the second is more expensive than the hrst one. The lie needs more complicated
mises en scène than innocence.¯ this cost incites to carefulness and conformism : disinformation is
repetitive and has to be easily detected.
However, the careful reading of the informations is not enough : it is also necessary to 'prohle¯ the
adversary. This prohling will consist to exercise a 'role playing game¯, which will aim at
understanding the adversary's cognitive system in order to favor the anticipation of his reaction and
Fighting against disinformation also requires to develop a strong knowledge about the navigation and
the acquisition of information online. We will analyze this issue further in this work.
+.4. The memory
A group or organization, in order to be well managed and prevent the loss of knowledge and skills
within it (risk of "amnesia" likely to constitute a major threat for the analytic and decisional processes)
must necessarily have a "memory" that lists all the informations (open/white
), written and oral, as
well as the knowledge and skills produced and possessed by the members evolving within it.
According to Besson and Possin (2001), 'The memory is the ability to link informations identihed
inside and outside the organization. It is an attitude, an organized curiosity and requires to be built an
audit of the information assets and of individuals' knowledge¯. It should therefore help identify and list
all the open informations useful for the analysis and decision-making processes. It is not naturally
limited to the data produced and acquired within the organization but exceeds its "walls¯. They add
that 'An emcient memory is a memory whose renection is more based on nuxes than in stock. If
storage of information is an investment for the future, the immediate redistribution to the interested
individuals skilled at treating it is an investment in the present. (.) The dinusion of information has
to be the main rule¯. Assange (2012) feeds this paradigm stating that 'By favoring the transmission of
true informations about their environment, men give themselves the means to make the right decisions
and act on it.¯
This requires for the organization to maximize its dinusion of information process (and thus the
inventory one) in order to limit the natural phenomenon of retention or bargaining of information.
Memory will thus also improve the knowledge management, whose goal is that information spreads
optimally and is sustained within an organization. The listing of both the group's successes and failures
(likely to be naturally overlooked) will be fundamental in order to optimize the future analysis based
on the learning from the past, and optimize the analytic and decisional emciency. The optimization of
68 Freely accessible informations.
this work will also help to develop the inter-personal communication, support the vital virtuous cycle
of question - answer and highlight the " areas of ignorance " which will enrich the organization's
memory, via continuously new informational needs and renections. We will keep in mind that to be
useful and relevant (i.e., to optimize the analysis and the decision making processes within the group),
this memory must be regularly consulted and operated by individuals as well as enriched via a constant
generation by the individuals of emerging issues and strategic informations.
Besson and Possin qualify the memory as an 'organized curiosity¯, which has to mobilize a small
group of people permanently, while the the network mobilizes the entire members of the organization
punctually. The memory is thus fundamental for the group, for it creates a true " mutual interest"
within the members. It thus allows the individuals to be aware of the dinerent resources available such
as the other individuals' skills and knowledge for their common project, which can favor their will to
work together and evolve positively within the group, beyond all dinerences and potential
antagonisms. It hnally makes it easy to identify useful networks in the search for oral and closed
informations, necessary to optimize the analysis and decision-making processes.
+.5. The technical and legal dimensions of the memory
For Besson and Possin, the memory is designed to be augmented and resilient, modular, extensible
and, once well dehned and developed/optimized, has a natural tendency to grow. The determination of
this growth determines its quality. Information attracts information and if, at hrst, it feeds with
restricted objectives, the individuals/groups in charge of the investigations (via the question - answer
cycle) will generate a growing appetite. That's for this reason the software used to technically
administer the memory has to be unachieved, extensible and adaptable.
This description hts perfectly the characteristics of a Free software with its inherent (i.e., designed)
possibilities of unrestricted modihcation, transformation, forking or extension via add-ons. The Free
software's intrinsic qualities, such as the viability, sustainability and security, can also ht the
organization's technological needs to ensure and sustain its extensible and modular memory.
Moreover, using a Free software to develop and manage the memory will allow the group/organization
to have a full sovereignty over its system, and not depend on a third-party likely to exercise an abusive
control over it or restrict its experience with 'digital handcuns¯ (Stallman, 1980).
Choosing Free technologies for the memory thus ensures the group/organization to beneht from
sustainable digitized informations and knowledge, and optimizes its analytic process by avoiding
potential abuses such as censorship or arbitrary suppression of data from a private entity owning the
technological system (whose access to the 'core¯, i.e., the source-code is denied by it). An emcient
digital memory is thus necessarily built on Free standards and is entirely owned and controlled
(technical and legal dimensions) by the group/organization administrating it, and not by third-parties
(i.e., no relation of dependence and 'blind trust¯). The use of open standards can also favor the
technical interoperability with other systems, i.e., the connection between dinerent memories in order
to create a richer and more valuable informational system. Free softwares such as MediaWiki
(powering famous projects such as Wikipedia) and code (e.g., HTML) can constitute perfect
technologies for the production, sharing and preservation of information and knowledge within the
digital world.
Besson and Possin thus refer to the 'meccano principle¯ to qualify the extension of the memory. This
memory thus has to be composed of empty and full alveolus. The full ones favor the informational
hlling of the memory (i.e., the development of certainty) and the empty ones stimulate the curiosity,
the need of growth and quest for extending the informational existent and the
The Wiki is a really good example of collective intelligence technology based on an open and
decentralized production of information and knowledge. Let's consider a clear example by analyzing
the online memories of Fablabs. The Fablab collective situated in Rennes states on his wiki page
entitled Fablab Rennes . listing oJ the mutualisable resources
: "Like the recension page of resources
on Brest, we propose to identify resources in Rennes or near Rennes that we could put together to turn
a place of personal fabrication. Square meters, time available for workshops, materials... The fablab
perhaps already exists in our heads and our garages!¯ We can hnd on this website really useful
informations concerning the Fablabs near this geographic area, such as the listing of the activities led
by the organization, of the local network
, i.e., the cartography of the dinerent interconnected local
organizations bound by the same philosophy, of the dinerent local resources available, a mailing list to
be kept posted of all the news from the organizations, etc. The wiki content is released under a
Creative Commons Attribution - ShareAlike license and thus allows anyone to copy, modify and share
it without restriction. Another website, administered by the Fablab Foundation lists all the dinerent
Fablabs in the world, in order to easily cartography this global network
The Free licenses of these memories thus aim at favoring the interconnection and interoperability with
other ones sharing the same code (i.e., respecting the values and principles of the MIT's Fablab
). Any other Fablab or collective can thus use this content and connect/merge it with its own,
in order to enrich its own memory. The share-alike term of the Creative Commons license moreover
obliges anyone to release the modihed content (i.e., integrating this one) under the same license, i.e.
creating a positive legal contamination which aims at ensuring the interoperability between them and
prevents any attempt of privatization.
+.9. Internet net(ork and strategic intelligence
For Besson and Possin (2001), the Internet shares strong links and a surprising resemblance with the
strategic intelligence process. Thus, they are both inscribed in the same logic of globalization of the
economy and of planetary exchange of information. For de Rosney (2000), 'Internet is not a
technology, its a new space-time, the cyber space-time, which creates new situations of exchange (.)
between men. Internet is the embryo of a planetary brain where the man is the neuron¯.
They thus state that the Internet network has become the main tool of the strategic intelligence, when
this process has become one of its most essential application. Like the strategic intelligence, the
internet network is at hrst a memory, or more precisely, the possibility to reach millions of memories
worldwide, just like the strategic intelligence which belongs to those who implement it.
We will add that they both require, to be optimal, a 'culture of the network¯, i.e., a good
understanding of these systems, and their functioning with their respective opportunities and threats if
not well managed, in order to optimize their emcient exploitation and enriching. According to Besson
and Possin, the access to the internet network requires, like the strategic intelligence, a question or a
series of questions, and these two tools require the preliminary existence of an intellectual curiosity.
The quality of the questions will determine the quality of the answers (e.g., the navigation process,
which can be stimulated by the abduction and the 'serendip attitude¯ we will analyze further).
The access to the answers requires in both cases the mastering of specihc languages. These languages
are used to build questions to navigate in the ocean of memories and select the innumerable answers to
the asked questions, to synthesize and analyze them. We will analyze the several issues linked to these
languages (i.e., code layer of the network infrastructure) as well as examples of Free tools aiming at
optimizing the online navigation process further in this work. Like strategic intelligence, the internet is
in a perpetual growing, because the answers and questions get reproduced via a dialog. These two
systems are permanent cycles of answers and questions.
Finally, they state that the network, like the strategic intelligence, works on the prehistory of the ideas,
of the technicals, of the discoveries. Before the right freezes or protects them, the two tools have
already achieved their tasks,which is to grab and exploit opportunities or detect threats.
The Internet 'rchi*e as e$ample of global and common collecti*e memory
The Internet Archive project aims at developing a common good of the humanity, by hosting all the
Free resources of the network. It is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural
artifacts in digital form. It promotes a universal access to all knowledge, and is based on Free contents
and code (open standards to favor the interoperability between other systems). Like a paper library,
they provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public.
Here is what they state on their website to dehne their goal :
Without cultural artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its
successes and failures. And paradoxically, with the explosion of the Internet, we live in what
Danny Hillis has referred to as our "digital dark age."
The Internet Archive is working to prevent the Internet - a new medium with major historical
signihcance - and other "born-digital" materials from disappearing into the past. Collaborating
with institutions including the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian, we are working to
preserve a record for generations to come.
At present, the size of our Web collection is such that using it requires programming skills.
However, we are hopeful about the development of tools and methods that will give the general
public easy and meaningful access to our collective history. In addition to developing our own
collections, we are working to promote the formation of other Internet libraries in the United
States and elsewhere.
- From ephemera to artifact: Internet libraries can change the content of the Internet from
ephemera to enduring artifacts of our political and cultural lives. "I believe historians need every
possible piece of paper and archived byte of digital data they can muster. The Smithsonian
Institution sees the value, and has amliated with the Archive to preserve the 1996 campaign
Web sites, omcial and unomcial¯. Dan Gillmor, computing editor, San Jose Mercur, Nevs, 1
September 1996;
- Protecting our right to know: Most states have pre-Internet sunshine laws that require public
access to government documents. Yet while the Internet has generally increased public access to
information, states have just begun to amend those laws to renect today's Internet environment.
According to Bill Chamberlin, director of the Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project at the
University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, such laws are being enacted
"piecemeal, one state at a time," and cover information that varies widely in nature - everything
from "all public records" to specialized information such as education reports and the licensing
status of medical practitioners. In the meantime, while public omcials are posting more
information on the Internet than their state legislatures require, there's little regulatory control
over exactly what is posted, when it's taken on, or how often it's updated. This leaves a gap that
online libraries can help to hll;
- Exercising our "right to remember": Without paper libraries, it would be hard to exercise our
"right to remember" our political history or hold government accountable. With much of the
public's business now moving from paper to digital media, Internet libraries are certain to
become essential in maintaining that right. Imagine, for instance, how news coverage of an
election campaign might suner if journalists had only limited access to previous statements that
candidates had made in the media. "The Internet Archive is a service so essential that its
founding is bound to be looked back on with the fondness and respect that people now have for
the public libraries seeded by Andrew Carnegie a century ago.... Digitized information,
especially on the Internet, has such rapid turnover these days that total loss is the norm.
Civilization is developing severe amnesia as a result; indeed it may have become too amnesiac
already to notice the problem properly. The Internet Archive is the beginning of a cure - the
beginning of complete, detailed, accessible, searchable memory for society, and not just
scholars this time, but everyone¯. Stewart Brand, president, The Long Now Foundation.
- Establishing Internet centers internationally : What is a country without a memory of its
cultural heritage? Internet libraries are the place to preserve the aspect of a country's heritage
that exists on the Internet;
- Tracing the way our language changes : During the late 19th century, James Murray, a
professor at Oxford University, built the hrst edition of the OxJord English Dictionar, by
sending copies of selected books to "men of letters" who volunteered to search them for the hrst
occurrences of words and to trace the migration of their various meanings. Internet libraries
could allow linguists to automate much of this extremely labor-intensive process;
- Tracking the Web's evolution : Historians, sociologists, and journalists could use Internet
libraries to hold up a mirror to society. For example, they might ask when dinerent ethnic
groups or special interests or certain businesses became a presence on the Internet. "We don't
know where this Internet is going, and once we get there it will be very instructive to look back.¯
Donald Heath, president of the Internet Society in Reston, Virginia;
- Reviving dead links : A few services - such as UC Berkeley's Digital Library Project, the
Online Computer Library Center, and Alexa Internet are starting to oner access to archived
versions of Web pages when those pages have been removed from the Web. This means that if
you get a "404 - Page Not Found" error, you'll still be able to hnd a version of the page¯;
- Looking back : With a "way-back machine" - a device that displayed the Web as it looked on a
given date - historians and others would literally have a window on the past.
The digital collective memory, especially if based on Free code and content layers, is thus truly
necessary to optimize the humanity's preservation of its cultural patrimonial and avoid attempts of
censorship, i.e., the exercise of abusive power based on the erasure of the past, like authoritarian
strategies described in Orwell's 1984 or used by the Chinese Government (Clauzel, 2014). this
memory is thus, as we have already stated, fundamental for the analytic process and the preservation
of the analytic and interpretative processes but also for the creative and inventive ones, which are
largely fed by past culture, i.e., past 'contexts¯ (Seemel, 2014). However, the current technical and
legal evolution of the internet network, and more specihcally the paradigm shift from 'code is law¯ to
'law is code¯, as well as the tendency of privatization of the public domain and ever- growing
extension of the copyright protection (Lessig, 2001; Maurel, 2012) strongly threatens this fundamental
common good. We will analyze these dinerent issues further in this work.
1. .lobal e*ol*ed collecti*e mind
We are going to try to propose a new paradigm, based on the synectic method, aiming at developing
an optimal social system based on the dinerent philosophies as well as the several social phenomena
we have emphasized, which we will call global e·ol·ed collecti·e mind. We will consider both the
creative groups and the networks, for these last systems constitute a fundamental part of the inventive
intelligence and allow to optimize the collective intelligence process. The core design of the system
will be innuenced by the characteristics and principles (social, technical and legal) of the internet
network, the Free software and the Free Universal Construction Kit we will analyze further.
1.. The groups3 design and functioning
Here are the core characteristics and principles we have selected from the dinerent philosophies,
which structure our new social paradigm :
- Open and decentralized networked structure;
- Neutral and universal;
- Interconnection and interoperability at the core of the system;
- Common and anti-rivalrous nature;
- Three layers of of a communication system : technical, code and content;
- Possibility to clone (e.g., copy/mirror), and fork (e.g., take a new direction, while remaining
interoperable and potentially interconnected to the initial one.
1.#. .roups of belonging and groups of reference
The groups of belonging will refer in our system to both the local one(s) the individual evolves in, and
the global one (i.e., global community) he de Jacto belongs to via his whether passive (e.g., simple use
of a Free program) or active involvement in a project (e.g., by contributing to develop/improve Free
resources). In other words, his belonging to the global community can be enective via his committing
or not participation to local actions feeding the global dynamic and collective intelligence of the global
community. The group(s) of reference will imply whether both the local one(s) and the global one, or
simply the local or the global one, via his simple desire to be a part of whether a local attractive local
group or a global community.
Here are the dinerent characteristics of the evolved collective mind
we will consider for our groups of
creativity :
- Norm of originality in order to favor the permanent cognitive connict, via the constant disinhibited
proposal of new ideas by the individuals. The individuals are used and encouraged to analyze, criticize
and challenge the existing (ie., reframing process). The minority innuence is fostered and encouraged
in the group by promoting nexible norms favoring the social impact;
- The individuals produce individual and collective renection, analysis and new ideas. They preserve
their individual attitudes, and possess an enlarged vision and perception (i.e global thought and
74 Based on our theory about the development of a favorable social context for collective intelligence and innovation
'thinking outside the box¯ favored by the hacking philosophy). The anonymous expression has to be
made possible and favored;
- Encouraged cognitive diversity to optimize the collective reading via the favoring of the cognitive
connict and their public expression in order to favor innovation;
- Management of collective intelligence : Culture of intelligence within the group (question - answer
virtuous cycle and permanent search for new problems likely to generate new solutions
- Information is pluralistic : Allows a diversity of representations and realities, and its management is
practiced collectively (each member is encouraged to-have a role in this process);
- The individuals are encouraged to interact (i.e., trained to communicate at the intragroup and
intergroup levels) and exchange views and perspectives in order to optimize the negotiation and
cohabitation processes within the group (anthropological conception of the communication). The
structure of communication is decentralized;
- System based on voluntary commitment, autonomy, initiative, mastery and goal as core part of the
intrinsic motivation as well as intra and intergroup cooperation unleashing the individuals' creativity;
- Management of antagonisms : With specihc techniques such as crossed-categorization, role playing
games and supra-ordinal goals;
- Group welded by common values, respect and mutual listening.
The feeling of belonging will be favored by the strong ethical values composing the group's 'code¯ (as
well as the global community he evolves in/is connected to). Ethics, collective intelligence and strong
values such as liberty, equality and fraternity will have to constitute core parts of the system of values,
in order to favor this feeling of belonging and 'limit the individuals' selhshness¯ (Stallman, 2002). The
'ethical¯ hacking philosophy promoted by Stallman will also favor the reconciliation and harmonious
cohabitation between the individuals' natural selhshness and altruism (Ruskin, 2012). The 'us¯ will
have to refer, in order to strengthen the groups' cohesion, to the external groups which neither belong
nor refer to the global community and who share a dichotomous system of value, i.e., 'code¯
. In our
case, it will refer to the individuals actively defending the privatization of the commons and the
development of proprietary, exclusive, rivalrous and connicting goods (i.e., with connicting designs
renecting the 'war of design¯
according to FAT, 2012).
Small 'primary¯ local and heterogeneous groups will be useful to allow the individuals to beneht from
optimal social relations. The minority innuence, and more globally the cognitive connict within the
members, has to be fully integrated in the group's design. The main norm, for creative tasks/goals,
thus necessarily has to be originality in order to favor the public expression of the minorities in the
inventive intelligence process.
The search for creativity as main social norm can strongly optimize the individuals' disinhibition and
75 According to the question - answer virtuous cycle emphasized by Besson and Possin (2001).
76 According to the transposition of Benkler's paradigm about communication system.
77 We will analyze this concept later.
unleashed creative thoughts/processes. The norms based on the search for consensus and conformism
to the majority's attitudes have to be proscribed in order to optimize the collective and inventive
intelligences. The individuals' disinhibition within the group will be favored by the do- ocratic
functioning and the hacking (including the DIY) philosophies, composing the semiotic hacking global
one. Thus, they will favor the individuals' amrmation/expression of their identity, by attenuating the
possible social innuences (optimized by the possible anonymity and favorable social norms optimizing
the experimentations). The semiotic hacking philosophy can thus strongly optimize the creative
emciency of the groups by favoring the cognitive connict and the individuals' disobedience and
expression of private attitudes/new creative ideas in order to experiment and feed the collective
creative thought in return.
The collective reading process will also be optimized if the individuals are encouraged to publicly
express their own interpretation of the collectively analyzed problems. The hacking philosophy, with
the culture of network, decentralization and amateurism, can strongly increase the individuals'
disinhibition within heterogeneous groups. The group's creative emciency will be optimized by its
decentralized structure of communication, its matching between the 'creativity¯ representation-of-the-
task and the decentralized structure of communication. The individuals' intrinsic motivation, as well as
the possibility to communicate via encrypted channels and beneht from a cypher/anonymous identity)
can also favor the individuals' disinhibited experimentations and proposition of new solutions likely to
induce a cognitive connict, i.e., innovation.
The group will have to possess clearly dehned norms, with interoperability with other ones in order to
not be perceived as 'extreme¯ by individuals evolving outside it. The tasks (whether creativity or
problem-solving) and goals also have to be clearly dehned in order to favor the individuals' clear
representation and emcient involvement in it as well as their 'feeling of belonging¯ (Dubois, 2001). In
other words, this clarity aims at favoring the group's cohesion and the interindividual exchanges within
it as well as favoring the collective intelligence, which will be fed and irrigated by a nuid strategic one
(aiming at optimizing the collective analysis and decisional processes within the group). The
individuals' representation of the two kinds of tasks will have to induce their respective optimal
conhguration (i.e., matching representation of the task - structure of communication), depending on
the situations the group will have to face or generate to innovate and adapt. This clear and salient
position will favor the development of its attractiveness and innuence among his external social
environment and favor its chances to induce a minority innuence, for example among the defenders of
a strong intellectual property policy who do not actually agree (even if unconscious) of the copyright's
legal term in their entirety (Seemel, 2013). The collective intelligence will have to be developed and
well-managed (e.g., via the semiotic hacking philosophy and its core components) in order to favor the
problem - solving process.
The hacking philosophy, the inventive intelligence and the synectic will favor the creative search of
solutions, via the reformulation process, the 'thinking outside the box¯ and the connection between
problems in order to actualize unexpected meaningful solutions. The individuals composing it will thus
have to be used to connecting or merging dinerent 'worlds of knowledge¯, via the 'absorption¯ of

other knowledges from other helds and their integration in their individual and collective renections, in
order to stimulate their creative and inventive thoughts. They can also favor the development of their
open- mindedness and the enlarging of their cognitive system via the removal of 'mental barriers¯ or
'cognitive silos¯ between dinerent domains
. The Free Universal Construction Kit, which we will
analyze further, is a really good example of problem-solving process through creativity fed by the
hacking philosophy.
The groups will thus have to be designed to favor the social support and facilitation via its emcient
implementation and daily practice. This is fundamental to optimize the synergy between the members
and their intrinsic motivation for being part of this collective system/process. The HackerMom
community thus emphasizes the need of social support and facilitation in order to favor and strengthen
the expression of creativity : ' HackerMoms is founded on the idea that mothers need a creative outlet
and stimulating environment of encouragement and support to explore.¯
Social facilitators might be used to favor and optimize the social intra and intergroup relations.
According to Doyle (2007), a social facilitator is "An individual who enables groups and organizations
to work more enectively; to collaborate and achieve synergy. He or she is a 'content neutral' party who
by not taking sides or expressing or advocating a point of view during the meeting, can advocate for
fair, open, and inclusive procedures to accomplish the group's work¯. According to Kaner (2007),
"The facilitator's job is to support everyone to do their best thinking and practice. To do this, the
facilitator encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding and cultivates shared
responsibility. By supporting everyone to do their best thinking, a facilitator enables group members to
search for inclusive solutions and build sustainable agreements¯. The social facilitator can thus also
play a major role in the management of antagonisms process. We will emphasize that the facilitator is
also at the core of several social projects linked to the hacking philosophy, such as Rick Falkvinge's
swarmwise (2013) or the hackathons.
Finally, the disinhibited social interactions and the cognitive connict, necessary for innovation to
happen, will be favored via the group's possibility to use cypher communication (i.e., by using
encryption to secure their exchanges) allowing them to interact anonymously, and optimizing the
disinhibited production of information, knowledge and expression of new creative/inventive ideas.
1.%. Clusters and net(orks
Let's now focus on the clusters and networks, as well as the intergroup relations whose connections
(whether potential or actualized) form our global community. We will base our analysis on the
transposition of these concepts from the computing domain to the social one.
1.%.. Clusters
According to the International Conference Computer Systems
, the computer clustering approach
78 We will analyze this later.
79 Network-Based Information Systems : First International Conference, NBIS 2007, p. 375.
usually connects a number of readily available computing nodes (e.g. personal computers used as
servers) via a fast local area network. The activities of the computing nodes are orchestrated by
"clustering middleware", a software layer that sits atop the nodes and allows the users to treat the
cluster as by and large one cohesive computing unit, e.g. via a single system image concept. Our
interconnected local groups will be based on the cluster concept. For Bader and Pennington (2001),
'Clusters are usually deployed to improve performance and availability over that of a single computer,
while typically being much more cost-enective than single computers of comparable speed or
The components of a cluster are usually connected to each other through fast local area
("LAN"), with each node (computer used as a server) running its own instance of an
operating system. Computer clusters emerged as a result of convergence of a number of computing
trends including the availability of low cost microprocessors, high speed networks, and software for
high performance distributed computing.
Clusters will thus qualify in our paradigm an interconnection of local groups, evolving in the same
local area, with strong exchanges between them at the local scale. The geographical proximity between
the dinerent groups composing the cluster will optimize the 'time-response¯ of their exchanges, just
like an individual's connection to a server physically situated closed to his actual position is faster than
to a one situated far from him. This proximity thus favors the physical meetings/interactions and the
development of trust, necessary to optimize the interindividual relations and the strategic intelligence
process. Fast local area networks and short circuits will allow to optimize the intergroup
relations/exchanges (e.g., of information, physical 'rivalrous¯ goods,...) within the cluster, and favor
their collective actions on the physical world (via a strong collective, strategic, inventive and territorial
Clusters and short circuits between local autonomous groups composing the global community will
optimize the strategic intelligence process, via the favored understanding of the 'external¯ local groups
and issues (i.e., the detection of weak signals in correlation with the heavy tendencies). It will also
favor the groups' collective exploitation of local 'external¯ networks in order to strengthen the cluster's
analytic and decisional processes (i.e., its collective intelligence) as well as its presence and innuence
on its area. The collective intelligence between the interconnected groups composing the cluster,
managed by this process, will thus optimize the monitoring, the detection and the environment's
evolution, both at the local and global scale. The inventive intelligence, fed by the synergy between
these groups, will also strengthen the innovation and adaptation to this ever- changing environment,
while favoring the cluster's innuence on it via the expression of creativity and inventiveness (hacking
philosophy) as well as the development and exploitation of an emcient territorial intelligence strategy.
This strategy will thus be fundamental to optimize the investment and management of the system's
'technical layer¯.
The local groups/clusters composing the global community will be qualihed in our work as
'autonomous¯. This term thus refers to both their restricted geographic area (i.e., short-circuits
81 A local area network (LAN) is a computer network that interconnects computers within a limited area such as a home,
school, computer laboratory, or omce building using network media.
allowing fast, easy and emcient physical connections between individuals) as well as to these dinerent
resources :
- Social : The group/cluster possesses a sumcient number of individuals in order to ensure its emcient
working (to accomplish its clearly dehned tasks) and sustainability;
- Technical : The group/cluster owns and controls its technical infrastructure (favored via Free
programs,...). Can be optimized via the mutualization of local 'rivalrous¯ resources (e.g., Fab Lab
collective in Britain or in San Diego);
- Financial : The group/cluster possesses sumcient means to ensure its viability and sustainability. It
does not depend on other 'nodes¯ of the global networked community (necessary to preserve the
decentralization of power and prevent potential abuses from one group/cluster on another one):
- Cognitive : The group disposes of an autonomous emcient strategic intelligence process (e.g., it
emciently monitors, analyzes and innuences his environment).
The privatization and centralization of the local and global collective intelligences composing the
global evolved collective mind is prevented by the social groups/clusters' intrinsic design, as well as :
- Favorable Free technologies storing it and used to dinuse it (i.e., sovereignty over the technological
- Legal licenses favoring their dinusion on an open and decentralized basis, in perfect accordance to
the digital world's intrinsic nature (anti-rivalrous and economy of abundance) and the positive
contamination via the share-alike license and the possibility to fork the group at any time.
The autonomy of the local groups or clusters is fundamental to optimize the decentralization of power
within the global networked community, and avoid potential abuses and exercise of control by a local
entity, based on the dependence of one or several groups/clusters on other one(s) and likely to threaten
the network's resilience. This potential abuse might thus threaten the open, decentralized collective
intelligence process based on the local groups' empowerment (as well as the dinerent members
composing it),necessary for them to truly exercise their freedom. It is thus a key-characteristic in
order to maintain the horizontal relations in the intergroup relations, with no hierarchy likely to favor
abusive exercises of power (interdependence to achieve common supra-ordinal goals).
TelecomixDA (self-dehned as 'A fan club devoted to the ideals of telecomix and cryptoanarchy being
a Cyber Utopian state without government or social classes also specializing in art of peace, or what
an utopia would look like¯, dehnes its design in these terms : : 'Organize without a clear leadership or
membership status. Have anyone joining your discussions be a part of your cluster. If they don't agree,
they will leave soon anyway. Organize like a gang or a pack. Don't use pyramidal structures or
formalized positions. Be nomadic in thought and associate yourself with many others¯. This design
emphasizes the importance of social mobility (Lewin, 1944) and an horizontal structures based on a
do- ocratic approach.
1.%.#. )et(orks
The global evolved collective mind will thus be constituted and fed by this potential inhnity of local
groups and clusters. This networked community will have, in order its intelligence and resilience to be
truly optimal, to develop a strong synergy between these dinerent local systems composing it. The
intergroup relations will have to be well managed in order to achieve this goal.
The networked global community will be composed of two levels of 'nods¯ :
- Groups and clusters (intergroup relations) : With potential intergroup connections likely to be
actualized, via concrete communications and collective actions operated by several groups/clusters.
Optimization of the collective 'local¯ intelligences via connections or mergers between local ones
produced by local groups/clusters;
- Individuals (interindividual relations) : With their own respective social network, inside and outside
their local and global group(s)/community.
Our global networked 'evolved collective mind¯ shares strong similarities with Besson and Possin's
'global brain¯ paradigm about the Internet and the strategic intelligence process we have analyzed.
This global network has to be, like the internet network, 'universal¯. Thus, anyone needs to have the
possibility (i.e., same potentiality between the individuals) to be an actor within it, e.g., by creating its
own group/cluster enriching the global networked dynamic as well as its resilience, and potentially
connect to other ones. This same potentiality requires a Free 'code¯ (i.e., inclusive and anti-rivalrous),
in order the individuals/groups wishing to be a part of it to be 'empowered¯ toward its application (via
favorable technical and legal dimensions,...). This Free nature will be fundamental for our network to
be considered as a common good (according to Maurel's analysis of the internet network as a common
good, 2014). It also requires, as Besson and Possin (2001) highlighted, a good awareness and
understanding of the possibilities onered by this collective intelligence as well as a good methodology
to interrogate and exploit it (e.g., to identify specihc local groups/clusters or networks in order to
achieve specihc goals). The evolved collective mind will thus refer to the optimized synergy between
the individuals composing the networked community in order to develop an emcient global collective
and inventive intelligence processes.
As Bayart (2007) and Lessig (2001) emphasize, innovation and intelligence (content, database,
computers which work) is situated at the edge/periphery of the internet network. Free softwares and
Internet are intrinsically bound and interdependent : the Internet could not have been created without
Free softwares, for Free standards and technologies were used to build its architecture. Then, the
development of Free softwares on an open and decentralized basis requires the internet to share and
exchange source code.
Crouzet (2013) emphasizes the main characteristics of what he calls the 'economy of peace¯, by
giving the example of a scientihc discovery :
- Everyone has access to the same information (i.e., same potentiality of access and enriching);
- Very fast propagation, since everyone can adopt it (i.e., access, copy and share) without asking
- No real competition between producers, who can therefore collaborate, with an emcient benehcial
for research (they work on improvements rather than reinventing the wheel).
The economy of peace, based on collaboration and contribution, thus allows to optimize the
management of the resources at the local and global scale : the individuals, groups and clusters can
thus focus on the improvement of already actualized goods, or on the creation of brand new ones that
have not yet been dehned.
Ambrosi's (2012) dehnition of the philosophy of the commons hts well our social paradigm :
What connects the multiple practices of the commons is a very critical reading and a worldview
that is the " good life ", that is to say, the coexistence between humans, harmony with nature
and responsible and equitable sustainable development. This philosophy is based on a system of
value that promotes inclusion, sharing, participation, collaboration, peer to peer, the collective
interest, respect and the valuing of the dinerence and hybridization. This last aspect (the
dinerence and hybridization of cultures, generations, skills, etc.) is considered as an asset in the
participation, cooperation and creative collaboration. In the same sense of the openness to
pluralism, there is also a rejection of dogmatism. It does not say, for example, that working for
the collective interest, the common good denies or excludes special interests. (.) We rather say
that the common good prevails the collective over the individual, the cooperation over
competition, the use over ownership, etc. We hnally note the importance given to anect in
relationships based on the the common good. The desire often prevails over the need among the
motivations of men and women to act together for a common good that transcends individual
This dehnition of what he calls the 'economy of creative contribution¯ thus emphasizes the dinerent
fundamental principles we have already dehned and analyzed, and which compose the core of the
semiotic hacking philosophy :
- The harmonious cohabitation between the individuals' selhshness and altruism within a collective and
cooperative global project (supra-ordinal goal(s) to ensure harmonious and non-connicting social
- The inclusive (i.e., non-discriminating) nature of the communitarian system's design;
- The importance to connect, merge and 'hybridize¯ cultures and knowledges in order to stimulate the
inventive intelligence and creativity;
- The desire to belong and refer to a group perceived as attractive and benehcial for the individuals;
- The open-mindedness in order to avoid cognitive rigidity and dogma.
The economy of collaboration and contribution, at the core of the global evolved collective mind,
shares the following characteristics :
- No real competition, i.e., connict between the individuals/groups/clusters, for collective enriching of
the same economic dynamic based on the commons anyone can beneht;
- Horizontalization and cooperation to produce common goods and hght against a common adversary
in the 'war of sharing¯ ) between them. Managed and channeled cognitive connict via the groups'
intrinsic design : full interoperability, for same code/social representations and legal nature between
the groups and their productions (i.e., content). Part of a global common good;
- Collective open and decentralized collective intelligence process, and part of the strategic
intelligence in order to optimize the evolution of the global community, and the defense against a
common adversary.
Bernard Stiegler (2014), philosopher and director of the Institut de recherche et d'innovation (IRI),
sees the Free software as the matrix of the economy of the contribution; it is indeed an industrial
activity that no longer robs people of their knowledge but rather develops individual and collective
knowledges. However, this matrix can be applied in almost all industrial activities in the future : smart
energy networks, where we are no longer consumers but curators, re-materialization (3D printing ...),
agriculture (AMAP, Open Source Ecology .).
Stallman (2002) emphasizes that 'Computers and the web make it much easier to work collaboratively
and continuing to improve publications. He also supposes that this will become even more true in the
future, as people develop better ways to do it.
We are now going to transpose Benkler's three layers of a communications system in our new social
1.+. Technical infrastructure
Let's hrst consider the technical infrastructure. This layer will refer to the physical or digital areas
invested and managed by the groups and clusters to structure their activities and exercise their
creativity. These areas/spaces will possess inherent characteristics and constraints, which will have to
be considered, managed (e.g;, via a territorial intelligence strategy) and potentially bypassed by the
groups/clusters evolving within. These constraints can be for example rivalry and economy of scarcity
within the physical world. Like the internet network system (with servers hosting data), this layer will
be most of the time private (i.e., owned and managed by local entity/ies evolving within it).
1.1. Code
Let's then analyze the¯code¯ layer. The code will refer in our analysis to the common 'language¯
(Besson and Possin, 2001) shared by the dinerent individuals, groups and clusters composing the
global networked community, i.e., the culture and system of values/representations that federates them
within our global community, both at the intragroup and interindividual/group levels, and structures
their collective actions. This code can be whether inclusive (e.g., Free philosophy) or exclusive (e.g.,
based on elitism), interoperable or connicting with other ones (e.g., based on strong discrimination
toward individuals or social categories). According to our paradigm, this commonly shared code has to
allow the dinerent local groups/clusters to emciently communicate and participate in collective
centralized or decentralized actions, i.e., ensure their interoperability. It will thus have to constitute for
the global community an 'anti- rivalrous good¯ : the more it is shared and cognitively 'appropriated¯,
the more valuable it becomes (for the wider the global community, i.e., the stronger its potential
power of intelligence and innuence). In a nutshell, its dinusion and appropriation will optimize the
potentiality of a rich, strong and resilient collective intelligence between the individuals sharing it, and
strengthen the global system's emciency and resilience, as well as its visibility and attractiveness, i.e.,
its innuential power.
1.1.. .lobal supra0ordinal goals and superordinate social identity
The individual and collective reference to a same global community will be the core part of the global
evolved collective mind's code : the individuals, local groups and clusters thus have to dehne
themselves as members of a global community via a superordinate social identity, which aims at
federating them and optimize their potential connection and collaboration.
Common supraordinal goals, such as the protection and development of the commons, and a
superordinate social identity favoring the 'global thought¯ are necessary for the social relations to be
optimized within the global networked community. These supraordinal goals will be dehned by the
commonism philosophy, and will concern in our paradigm the development and protection of the
common goods to ensure the individual and collective empowerment in their exercise of creativity and
inventiveness. The individuals will thus be strongly encouraged to enrich and protect the ' common
pool¯ likely to be exploited by anyone in order to stimulate an open, decentralized and global
creativity/inventive intelligence. The defense and protection of the internet's neutrality/universality
will constitute a fundamental part of this supra-ordinal goal, for this network is necessary to ensure the
emciency of our global networked community's functioning, as it allows the dinerent local systems to
easily communicate and exchange information and knowledge. It is also, as Besson and Possin
emphasizes, a core part the strategic intelligence process, which plays a fundamental role in the
semiotic hacking practice. The 'love¯ for the network as well as the individuals composing it and their
unrestricted exchanged of information and knowledge will refer to the datalove philosophy we have
analyzed. These individuals' supra-ordinal goal/role (which consists to enrich a global collective
intelligence dynamic that anyone can beneht and enrich in return) will thus be fundamental for the
ensuring and sustainability of the harmonious relations between them.
The individuals' reference to the same global community will aim at developing a 'global thought¯,
necessary to develop an optimal global system and decrease the risk of social categorization likely to
induce discrimination within the global networked community. This collectively shared (on the open,
decentralized and worldwide basis) thought (i.e., perception/awareness of the belonging to a global
community) will be favored by the internalization of the 'think global, act local¯ paradigm, at the core
part of the system's 'code¯. The global e·ol·ed collecti·e mind will thus be developed and sustained by
a strong system of core values and this superordinate social identity, as well as by a global collective
intelligence stimulated by a potential inhnity of connections and synergies between the dinerent
'neurons¯, i.e., the groups and individuals composing it. The local memories developed by the groups
and clusters will have to be modular, extensible and interoperable in order to optimize the global
mind's strength and resilience.
Here is the main social paradigm , dehned by the Fab Lab Foundation, which will dehne our groups'
social identity
: 'To be a Fab Lab means connecting to a global community of learners, educators,
technologists, researchers, makers and innovators - a knowledge sharing network that spans 30
countries and 24 time zones. Because all Fab Labs share common tools and processes, the program is
building a global network, a distributed laboratory for research and invention.¯
A strong and attractive superordinate social identity can moreover favor the individual's intrinsic
motivation and voluntary engagement in the global process via the proposal (i.e., initiative) or
participation in already triggered local actions. This system of value as well as this global collective
identity will have to be clearly dehned and interpreted in order to favor the individuals' feeling of
belonging and identihcation to them, as well as their 'correct¯ interpretation by individuals evolving
both inside and outside the global community (i.e., mental association in the semiotic process). The
common anti- rivalrous nature of the code is fundamental to ensure the inter and intragroup
interoperability (i.e., the harmonious/non-connicting social relations), as well as the universal nature
of the global networked community. Free licenses, and more specihcally the 'contaminative¯ ones
(i.e., via their share-alike term), will be useful to protect the code's common nature and favor its
'symbolic appropriation¯ (Gunthert) while protecting it against a potential privatization or 'semantic
alteration¯ or 'corruption¯ via its abusive exploitation by entities who do not respect it. An open
can also be an interesting mean to legally protect the global superordinate social identity
against potential abuses likely to threaten its meaning via the individuals' mental association
(Doctorow, 2013).
The global social category and superordinate social identity will necessarily have to be inclusive (e.g.,
like the Free philosophy according to Kaunman , 2013) in order to favor the actualization of new local
groups, clusters and the multiplication of the potential interconnections likely to stimulate the global
dynamic. The status of community member thus has to be de Jacto granted to anyone who uses,
promotes, shares or enrich the 'common pool¯ developed and sustained by the global community.
Crossed categorizations within dinerent groups/clusters can also be a good mean to decrease the risk
of discrimination between them and favor their interoperability/harmonious horizontal and 'neutral¯
(i.e., non-connicting) relations. This crossing can be operated via collective actions with 'local¯ supra-
ordinal goals and social playing roles (e.g., in the analytic process).
The development of a worldwide interoperability between a potential inhnity of local groups/clusters,
all united (via our clear, attractive and inclusive code) under the same global networked community
84 As proposed by Maurel (2013) and whose concept is closed to the Wikimedia Foundation trademark policy.
85 We will analyze this issue later.
will have to be considered as a civic role within it in order to achieve the fundamental supra-ordinal
goals based on the protection of the commons against their privatization/'enclosure¯. The practice of
inventive intelligence as well as the hybridization of knowledges can favor the development and
achievement of interoperability between the dinerent creative groups.
The intrinsic motivation can also be favored by the collective development of a good on a fully open,
decentralized and universal basis, whose core motivation to cooperate and contribute is the common
desire to beneht from a rich and attractive good. Pink (2010) emphasizes a system of functioning
based on three fundamental principles of intrinsic motivation, based on a better consideration of the
individuals' deep desires :
- Autonomy : the desire to rule his own life;
- Mastering : the desire to bloom in something that matters for him;
- Goal : the feeling that what he does lies within something more important than him.
For him, most problems inducing a need for innovation and creativity can usually only be solved by
adopting an external point of view. Intrinsic motivation allows to expand the analytic and renexive
capabilities of individuals, favoring the emergence of new solutions. The only constraint which does
not interfere with this process is to tell people that the work must be done (i.e., setting goals). For
him, individuals who are granted autonomy over the organization and working methods are generally
more satished and happy to participate in these tasks. There is also a clear improvement in the quality
of the work produced and in the individuals' commitment toward their work.
Free softwares, the Wikipedia project or collective translations of an existing work are good examples
illustrating this kind of open and decentralized co-creation made possible by a neutral internet. The
Blender Foundation thus states on the Free software website : 'Blender is being made by hundreds of
active volunteers from around the world; by studios and individual artists, professionals and hobbyists,
scientists and students, VFX experts and animators, game artists and modders, and so on. All of them
are united by the desire to have access to a fully free/open source 3D creation pipeline. People can
join us to work on parts of the software, on the websites, documentation, education, design proposals,
testing, and many more topics.¯ Serdar Yegulalp (2013) analyzes, in an article entitled 1he Juture oJ
Linux . e·ol·ing e·er,vhere the communitarian development of Linux : 'What matters most is not
who's contributing, but in what spirit. Linux advocates are hrm believers in contributions to Linux, no
matter what the source, as a net gain - as long as the gains are contributed back to the community as a
Finally, the multi-cultural open and decentralized production of Free culture can also be an emcient
mean to favor the intergroup cohesion. The Blender Foundation's Gooseberry project is a good
example. This will constitute the hrst open 3D feature movie, developed by this foundation and twelve
dinerent studios worldwide. Its development is based on the creation of specihc 'local¯ parts
(developed by these twelve studios), which have for main mission to express their own specihc artistic
culture. The hnal movie will thus be composed of these twelve dinerent cultural expressions,
meaningfully bound by the common plot/storyline.
All these dinerent studios are thus gathered and
bound by the same love for Free culture and the Blender Free software. The Blender community thus
constitutes both their common group of belonging and of reference, and these dinerent groups all
share a common supra-ordinate goals : developing the hrst 3D open movie and contributing to
improve the Blender software for further works as well as to allow anyone to beneht from these
Finally, the clear dehnition of a common adversary as well as concrete and serious threats which have
to be collectively faced, analyzed and smartly managed to be transformed into opportunities (strategic
intelligence process) in the achievement of the supra-ordinal goals can also help federate the
individuals and optimize the local and global social cohesion. Here are several important threats
emphasized by the April, advocacy group for the defense and promotion of the Free softwares :
- DRM : Digital handcuns that the law prohibits circumventing;
- Patents on software : Allow appropriation of ideas and blocking software development except for a
few multinationals;
- Forced sale : Makes the purchase of software, usually Microsoft Windows or Apple MacOS,
obligatory when buying a computer, which is illegal;
- Treacherous computing : Unfair computing (sometimes called "trusted") blocks the operation of
programs that are not authorized by the manufacturer.
The 'war of sharing¯ (Lessig, 2001) and the 'war of design¯ (FAT, 2012) can constitute good
arguments for the local groups and clusters to unite and overlook their potential antagonisms in order
to preserve fundamental values and practices which are truly necessary for creativity and
inventiveness. The harmony in the intergroup and interindividual relations within the global
community will thus be optimized if these relations are based on a relation of interdependence
(Lewin, 1944), in these clearly dehned 'wars¯. This strong cohesion can also be reinforced by the
collective understanding of potential strategies of power/control over them, such as the attempt to
impose competition between them in order to divide them (e.g., the introduction of competition
between them by private or public entities for the obtaining of subventions). This awareness of
hnancial dependence toward specihc entities inducing competition (i.e., connict) between groups or
clusters from the same global community can thus incite these groups/clusters to imagine new
hnancial means, e.g., by soliciting an open and decentralized community via crowdfunding.
1.1.#. Culture of the net(ork and collecti*e intelligence
The code of the global evolved collective mind will be composed of the semiotic hacking philosophy
and qualihed as the 'cement¯ of the interindividual and intergroup relations within the same global
networked community. It will thus constitute the fundamental part of the global network's
infostructure : the individuals composing the global community will be federated by this strong, clear,
attractive and inclusive common culture of collective and inventive intelligence and network, i.e., of
innovation based on local empowerment and individual or collective initiatives to enrich and
strengthen a global collective dynamic. Our code will be based on the culture of network. This culture
will include the following dimensions :
- Social : With the culture of the strategic intelligence, hacking and datalove as core of the networked
relations and practices;
- Technical : With the characteristics of the internet network (open, decentralized, neutral and
common good), with same potentiality of access and participation in order to optimize its functioning
and resilience. We also include the datalove as part of this technical dimension of the 'network
culture¯, for this 'anection¯ concerns both the individuals composing the network and the technical
network itself which is, as we said, necessary to optimize the social relations and collective actions
It will also refer to these dinerent social levels :
- Intragroups : Internal and external networks (specihc to each individual evolving within), with
specihc strategies/methodologies to develop and manage (as analyzed by Marcon and Moinet, 2007 as
well as core part of Besson and Possin's strategic intelligence process);
- Intergroups : Between the dinerent groups/clusters forming the global networked community or
between other ones evolving without but sharing same interests/culture and values.
Interoperability between the 'nodes¯ will have to be achieved both within and outside the global
community, in order to not be perceived as 'extreme¯, and increase the potentiality of minority
innuence phenomena within other social systems evolving outside the global community (i.e., neither
belonging nor referring to it). All the intelligences worldwide will have to be perceived by the
members of the community as potentially interconnected. The interoperable nature of our dinerent
local social systems, via their collective sharing of a common inclusive code, will aim at avoiding the
'war of designs¯ between them. This connict between the systems might thus be induced by
competitive relations, with each systems not designed to cooperate and work together (i.e., connect or
merge their own intelligences), for possessing connicting goals and interests (e.g., defend private
properties/rivalrous goods) or are forced by their economic environment to be in connict.
The dinerent groups composing the global evolved collective mind will thus have to be interoperable
in order to favor the potential connections and mergers between 'nodes¯, likely to enrich the collective
intelligence process at the local scale as well as, by extension, the global one. The more connections
(i.e., actualized links between the local groups/clusters) and the more the potential roads (i.e., social
relations) the individuals, groups and clusters within the global network can take to enter in
relation/communicate with other ones (i.e., the less dependent from specihc entities), the stronger the
global network.
This will necessarily require a favorable context : Free legal licenses and Free
technologies sustaining them as well as an economic paradigm (dehning and structuring the social
88 According to Zimmermann's analysis of the internet (2013).
relations) based on collaboration and contribution.
The Telecomix DeviantArt group emphasizes the importance of the development of an open,
decentralized and worldwide network : 'If it is within your means, travel a lot. Talk to people where
ever you go, and tell them about what you are doing. Tell them to join you if they like the idea, thus
creating a network within your country/region of the world, perhaps even internationally¯ (.) Join
other activist groups. Invite them over and throw even more nice parties. Hospitality is imperative -
your place is your friends place! And there is always a sofa to sleep on, where ever you go.¯Bauwens
(2014), theoretician of the Peer to Peer Economy and founder of the P2P Foundation, emphasizes the
competition several organizations like cooperatives have to face : ' Though they are internally
democratic, they often participate in the same dynamics of capitalist competition which undermines
their own cooperative values.¯ This undesired competition innuencing the social systems can also
induce a strong self-compromise, for example by taking undesired but perceived as 'necessary¯
decisions. For example, The Mozilla Foundation, in direct competition with powerful private entities
such as Microsoft or Google, took the hard decision to compromise their values by integrating DRMs
in the Firefox web browser's source code in order to not lose its users.
Bauwens thus proposes, based
on Kleiner's idea, the adoption of a 'Peer Production License¯, in order to create a legal tool favoring
the development of a sustainable 'economy of the commons¯, articulated with the classic market
economy. He advances the thesis that this license could constitute a missing link between the
movement of Free culture and that of the Social and Solidarity Economy, allowing them to merge
while exceeding their own contradictions. In other words, this license could help 'foster open
The culture of hacking (with the 'thinking outside the box¯ attitude), coupled to the culture of the
networked collective intelligence (with strategic intelligence to exploit and manage it), can also
optimize the collective problem - solving process, by favoring the search and discovery of original and
unexpected (i.e. creative) solutions to actual problems (Manach, 2012). Coupled to the norms of
originality and search for creativity, they can favor the extension of the collective creative framework
and favor the individual and collective expression of creativity via Free tools and resources coming
from the developed, protected and promoted 'common pool¯.
The connection between dinerent 'worlds of knowledge¯ will be favored by the practice of synectic
and inventive intelligence, as well as the strategic intelligence practice, and more specihcally the
hybridization of knowledges in order to develop a 'cross-fertilization¯ (Massé & Thibault, 1996) and
enrich the open and decentralized collective intelligence process. For Marcon (2012), hybridization of
knowledge is what happens when scientists integrate in their works and renections the knowledges of
'non-scientists¯ in order to enrich them, make them evolve and open up new possibilities, and vice-
versa. This collective enriching based on the merger between dinerent domains requires for the
scientists to 'vulgarize¯ their knowledge in order to make it accessible to anyone. This vulgarization is
thus necessary to optimize this 'fertilized¯ collective intelligence whose value is way higher than if the
dinerent social categories discriminate each other. This potential inhnity of 'neutral¯ connections or
mergers between dinerent 'interoperable¯ knowledges is thus necessary to optimize the collective
intelligence process as well as the inventive intelligence, i.e., creativity and innovation within the
global network.
1.1.%. &thics, sharing and fun as core *alues
Ethics, inclusion, sharing of knowledge, 'hack values¯ such as playful cleverness and culture of
intelligence will be at the core of our code and will help develop, strengthen and sustain the
individuals' intrinsic motivation to be an active part of the global collective intelligence process. The
ethical development and achievement of the tasks/goals is fundamental to ensure the
interindividual/intergroups' social relations' sustainability. The individuals, groups or clusters' network
strategy necessarily have to be based on an 'ethics of mean¯ (Marcon, 2010) in order to sustain the
harmonious and trusted relations between the dinerent actors composing it/them. The whole process
of the network strategy (development, optimization, activation and exploitation) thus has to stick to
ethical values in order to preserve the trust within the network, necessary to sustain the strategic
intelligence process. Ethics in the networked practices is thus necessary to preserve trust and
legitimacy among the individuals composing it. The individuals, groups and clusters will thus have to
remember that the harmonious social relations' sustainability is more important than the achievement
of the collective works/projects at all cost.
Ethics in the hacking practice is also necessary to regulate the selhsh natural dimension of the
individuals (Stallman, 2002). Trust in the network, linked to the individuals, groups or cluster's
amliation to the global community, will be fundamental and can only be achieved via transparency in
the collective actions (i.e., 'enlightened trust¯). The superordinate social identity can also be used as a
'brand¯, as we said earlier, in order to not only federate the individuals around it but also to favor
their trust toward the dinerent 'branded¯ objects/projects.
Sharing, as well as solidarity, will constitute core values necessary to sustain the open and
decentralized 'global¯ collective intelligence. The culture of use instead of ownership (Rifkin, 2001)
can thus be promoted and defended in order to incite the individuals to share their 'rivalrous¯
resources with other individuals, and decrease the potential antagonisms likely to be favored by a too
much attachment to these goods. A mutualisation of rivalrous resources (as practiced in many Fab
Labs) can be an emcient mean to get the individuals used to this collective use and ownership.
The individuals' self-perception as member of a global community can also favor the enect of
reciprocity (Cialdini, 1993) i.e., stimulate their will to contribute to it, by 'giving it back what it gave
to them¯. A clear example is given by Gael Langevin, sculptor and model-maker who uses Free
resources (e.g., Blender software) for his work and desires to contribute to the Free philosophy by
releasing his InMoov robot as open-source, allowing anyone to beneht from his work.
He also
proposes on his project's omcial website a cartography of the InMoov builders worldwide in order to
favor the sharing of information and knowledge between this community.
The Telecomix DeviantArt group emphasizes the necessary disinhibited 'playful¯ attitude toward
experimentations and the importance of sharing information and knowledge to enrich the global
collective intelligence : 'Don't be obsessed with doing things "right". Instead of thinking too much,
tinker instead. Proceed by way of experimentation, try things out. If they fail, make sure to laugh a
little, then try a dinerent way. Collect experiences in your wiki, learn from the mistakes. Share all
knowledge freely with others.¯
The diversity of means for the achievement of the dinerent tasks/goals will have to be encouraged, in
order to respect the individuals, groups or clusters' personalities and culture and preserve their intrinsic
motivation to be part of the global collective networked intelligence. Thus, an individual who is afraid
to fail in his project might not desire to unveil it to the public until he has actually fulhlled/achieved it.
This individual might also be afraid of being copied by a private entity which might 'absorb¯ his work
and privatize it under the creation of a new proprietary good before he hnishes his own work. Another
one might desire to solicit from the very beginning of his project an open and decentralized collective
reading, in order to enrich his work via, for example, the constant proposal of constructive critics
during the development of his project (e.g., Blender Foundation's Gooseberry project, with the
possibility for anyone to exchange with the development team and contribute to it by sharing ideas and
suggestions). While a group/cluster might choose to develop a project under heavy secrecy (without
sharing it to anyone outside the local entity), the time for it to be completed and released as a
Free/common good, another one might thus opt for a totally open and transparent development
process. The only fundamental norm thus has to be the respect of an 'ethical¯ development (i.e., in
accordance to the semiotic hacking philosophy) as well as a common hnality.
The core object of our social system's representations will thus be the common goods, for they
constitute the core of all the dinerent philosophies and 'methodological tools¯ composing our semiotic
hacking paradigm. As we said, they are necessary to optimize the individuals' empowerment and
creative freedom, as well as ensuring the core principles structuring the Free philosophy as well as our
social system : liberty, equality, fraternity, universality and interoperability. Moreover, they allow us to
dehne a clear identity and position against entities who want to privatize them, e.g., by criminalizing
the acts of copying and sharing in order to favor the cohesion within the local groups/clusters and
within the global networked community. Ryan Merkley (2014), CEO of Creative Commons,
highlights the importance of being part of the Free culture community and highlights many issues we
have considered in our analysis
Why am I joining CC? Because its success is so vital, and I want to ensure we succeed. Creativity,
knowledge, and innovation need a public commons - a collection of works that are free to use, re-
use, and build upon - the shared resources of our society. The restrictions we place on copyright,
like fair use and the public domain, are an acknowledgement that all creativity and knowledge owe
something to what came before. Without a robust and constantly growing collection of works
available for use and reuse, we lose the kind of innovation and creative inspiration that gave us
Disney classics, hip-hop, and the interoperable Web. The consequences of failing to grow and
protect the public commons present themselves as lost opportunities: discoveries not made,
innovations left undeveloped, and creativity unrealized. It's complex and hard to quantify, but also
dangerous to ignore. A public commons is a driving force to advance human knowledge, and is
essential infrastructure for the global economy.¯
He also emphasizes the paradigm shift about the motivation to produce cultural content : 'And today's
battles over copyright often ignore the fact that the Web has dramatically shifted the motivations for
creators : it's no longer only about money. Many do it just for the love of their craft, or just to be seen
in the world, and still more are hnding ways to share their work and get paid at the same time.¯
The global social system, just like the Internet network and a Free software, has to be intrinsically
designed to make its corruption impossible. Any member or individual outside the local groups
composing it thus need to have the possibility to create, anywhere and at any time, a new group, i.e., a
new part of the global network. If the cognitive connict is too important within the group and the
majority does not to integrate the minority's point of view (e.g., toward the group or a work in
progress' evolution and direction), the minority needs to have the possibility, thanks to the group's
design, to 'fork¯ it and create a new one, whether temporarily (e.g., the time to achieve a dinerent
work) or permanently (e.g., to take a new direction and explore new creative paths).
This new potential creation has to be fully part of the initial group's intrinsic design. This creation will
however have to remain interoperable and potentially interconnected to the initial one (for the two
social systems share the same 'core¯ code, i.e., belong and refer to the same global community and
speak the same 'language¯). The two groups will thus have the possibility to connect or merge the
groups at any time, e.g., if they hnd a new consensus about their evolution and future. As Bayart
(2011) states, the internet network can not be 'owned¯ by any single entity, for the network is
composed of a potential inhnity of 'nodes¯ privately owned. A clear example coming from the Free
software domain is given by LibreOmce. This program was born from a split from the Open Omce's
core development team, who did not agree with the Oracle (i.e., the company having purchased the
program) corporate strategy. They thus decided to leave it, in order to fork the program (exploiting the
Free license) and sustain its development via the creation of a dedicated Foundation named 1he
Document Foundation. However, the two programs remain fully interoperable thanks to their Free
code and legal licenses.
Choice and modularity, concerning in our paradigm social mobility and adaptation, are fundamental
to preserve the individuals, groups and clusters' freedom and intrinsic motivation within the global
community, as well as ensuring their sustainability via an optimized capacity of adaptation to their
environment. They thus need to have the possibility to change of social position, as well as of social
structure, at any time in order to adapt to new conhgurations (e.g., new unexpected tasks with specihc
/4 https://
constraints and problems to be managed and solved in order to pursue the achievement of the supra-
ordinal goals). As Mark Baker, Ubuntu Server product manager for Canonical states : "Open-source
delivers freedom of choice. It naturally encourages modularity (.) With open-source you can choose
the best components for your situation¯.
The universal and Free/inclusive nature of the code shared by the local entities favors the global
system's sustainability for anyone can potentially copy (i.e. imitate) or fork any local system (i.e., copy
by preserving the initial base/structure of the group/cluster, but adopt a dinerent
direction/functioning). These new social systems will moreover remain interoperable with the other
ones (i.e., preserve the global stability/harmony between the social relations), via the belonging to the
same global community and the same supra-ordinal social identity. It is thus meaningless to try to
'enclose¯ it. Okhin (2012) illustrates this characteristic of a global social system by stating that the
Telecomix 'disorganization¯ strongly encourages anyone to copy or fork their 'source-code.¯
1.4. Content
Let's analyze the 'content¯ layer. This dimension will refer to the result of the collaborative creations
produced by the global community, which aim at pursuing the supra-ordinal goal we have analyzed :
develop, protect and promote the common goods.
1.4.. ?iability and sustainability as main issues
The main issues concerning the content dimension concerns the viability and sustainability of the
produced resources. The permanent creation, enriching and modihcation of common goods that
contribute to 'enrich¯ the 'common pool¯ as well as the 'context¯ and stimulate the individuals'
inspiration for a potential inhnity of future works. These resources require to be freely exploited by
potentially anyone to be stored in viable, sustainable and 'neutral¯ (i.e., non-discriminating) places.
The technical context thus plays, as well as the legal one, a fundamental part of the preservation of
these resources.
The goods produced by the individual or local groups/clusters will be whether physical (rivalrous) or
digital (anti-rivalrous). Rivalry can however be 'bypassed¯ by new technological means such as 3D
printing, which can strongly optimize the sharing of contents worldwide via the fast, easy and legal
sharing of digital hles and their potentially inhnite 'reihcation¯. It can thus favor the transformation of
'anti-rivalrous¯ data into physical 'rivalrous¯ goods with their inherent constraints. Digitization of
physical common goods (e.g., books) can also be a good mean to favor this fast and easy
dissemination worldwide and optimize the good's sustainability. The digitization of the cultural
patrimonial belonging to the public domain thus constitutes a fundamental part of the protection of
the commons.
We will consider, as we will analyze later, that a good's sustainability is determined for an important
part by its observation and interpretation, whether via a simple cognitive treatment or via the creation
of new works based on it. The consideration of the technical, legal and cognitive dimensions is thus
fundamental in their preservation and in the insurance of their sustainability. DRMs, depriving
licenses as well as 'mental DRMs¯ have to be proscribed and removed in order to favor the
individuals' empowerment via Free legal and technical tools as well as cognitive strategies to achieve
this 'removal¯. In other words, the community has to proscribe the use of DRMs (which induce
restriction, control, discrimination and 'damaging¯ of the goods) in their creations, in order to favor
this universal access and sharing as well as the unrestricted expression of creativity. Transparency in
the actions and/or in the hnal creations (via open source-code, recipes,...) is thus necessary to favor the
'enlightened trust¯ toward them and prevent the potential abusive exercise of power/control by
individuals or local groups/clusters (e.g., via the potential integration of DRMs within source-codes).
The possibility to 'disrupt culture¯ (BNF, 2014), for example via remixes or mashups (cultural
practices we will analyze later) thus has to be not only protected but also encouraged.
1.4.#. The anticipation of potential abuses against the commons
The monitoring of potential abuses will constitute a full part of the open and decentralized strategic
intelligence process, in order to detect as soon as possible the potential threats against the commons,
especially if these resources are stored on closed/depriving servers (for digital goods), whose owner is
likely to exercise an arbitrary censorship at any time. As we will analyze further in this work, this
threat has become truly concrete, via the automatization of the censorship in the cyberspace exercised
by private entities. The content's viability and sustainability will thus be optimal if a wide community
of individuals observe and enrich it without restriction (characteristics of a Free legal nature). The
higher the number of individuals observing, manipulating, enriching, copying and sharing it, the more
valuable it will become (if abundant/anti-rivalrous, e.g., within the digital world). The use of Free
licenses for the contents produced by the global networked community can favor their legal dinusion
as well as their both symbolic and operational 'universal¯ appropriation (Gunthert) as the individuals
are empowered to exercise the four fundamental freedoms on them. Open standards, as well as Free
legal licenses are thus necessary, especially for 'functional works¯ (Stallman, 1996), in order to favor
their collective appropriation and enriching. Open standards are also necessary for the works to be
considered as truly 'Free¯
. The Document Foundation thus emphasizes the important issues that
might be faced when closed/depriving formats are used to produce contents designed to be sustainable
and enrich 'memories¯
A routine problem encountered by computer users today is the discovery of personal digital
content created years ago and stored in old, outdated hle formats. Frequently, these old hles
cannot be opened by any application on the user's current operating system. The users are, put
simply, locked out of their own content. The most common reason for this inability to access old
data is the use of proprietary hle-formats that result in vendor lock-in.
Going forward, the obvious solution to this problem is to use true open standards that are duly
95 According to Kaunman's analysis we will analyze further.
and fully documented. But as things stand today, we must face a daunting reality: a signihcant
amount of our legacy digital content is encoded in proprietary, undocumented formats.
The Document Liberation Project was created in the hope that it would empower individuals,
organizations, and governments to recover their data from proprietary formats and provide a
mechanism to transition that data into open hle formats, returning enective control over the
content from computer companies to the actual authors.¯
The preservation of the produced common resources, as part of the 'common pool¯, thus has to be a
fundamental part of the communitarian process, in order to prevent a potential privatization, i.e.,
'enclosure¯, especially if the resources belong to the public domain (e.g., via copyfraud).
One of the main threats concerning the content dimension is thus the potential exercise of abusive
control by entities evolving whether within or without the global networked community. The collective
intelligence, via for example the collective reading and several emcient dissuasive
techniques/phenomena based on social innuences such as the Streisand or Flamby enects
, can be
useful to create a global open and decentralized (i.e., strong and resilient) deterrence.
As the Document Foundation emphasizes, the retention of information (e.g., about the use of specihc
programs) has to be prevented. The development of a strong documentation is thus fundamental to
empower the individuals and not allow local entities exercise an abusive power over them based on
ignorance and 'blind trust¯.
Another 'threat¯ for the global community's sustainability is represented by the individuals who use
the produced common goods for commercial 'private¯ purposes, but who do not give-back to the
community the result of their innovation. According to Al Gillen (2013), program vice president for
system software, 'Such a move would put Linux users at the mercy of people who may consume
Linux and provide it as a service but don't return their innovations to the community as a whole. It
may take a decade or more for such a shift to happen, but it could have negative implications for Linux
overall, and to commercial vendors that sell Linux-based solutions." Jim Zemlin (2014) executive
director of the Linux Foundation, thus emphasize an important threat for the common goods'
sustainability he calls the 'corporate co-opting¯ : 'Another possible threat to Linux is corporate co-
opting -- not of the code itself, but of the possibilities it provides.¯
1.4.%. !ocumentation and memory to fa*or the cogniti*e appropriation
The collaborative and rich production of documentation about common resources is also fundamental
to favor their use and democratization via a wide appropriation likely to stimulate a dynamic
communitarian development. This open and decentralized collective intelligence is thus not only
fundamental during the creation/development phase, but also for the insurance of the actualized
resource's viability (e.g., via collective reading aiming at tracking bugs within a program's source-
97 Bayart (2011) dehnes these two phenomena : the Streisand enect is a missed attempt of censorship of an unpopular
content online, and the Flamby enect is a missed attempt of censorship of an already popular content. In both cases, this
censorship induces a massive propagation of the content online, as well as its strong popularization.
code) and sustainability (via its free copying and sharing increasing its resilience against potential
abuses such as censorship). The more documented the Free resources, the richer the individuals'
understanding and interpretation, i.e., the higher the possibility for them to contribute emciently in
return in their development. Moreover, a strong documentation is, as we said, necessary to favor the
individuals' 'enlightened¯ relation and trust toward the good.
Florence Devouard (2014) analyzes the ' Wiki skills¯, and, emphasizes how synergic methods change
collaborative culture
When Wikipedia became mainstream around 2004-2005, the wiki environment invented in
1995, hnally got public attention. It rapidly became a frequent platform for community
knowledge based projects. The benehts for the participants are not so much about learning to
use a wiki software, it is about all the soft skills they acquire on the way: trust in themselves and
others, collaboration and collaboration skills. Such benehts suggest that teachers and trainers
should use wikis and wiki alike tools more frequently with the expectation of empowering civic
behavior, social inclusion, employability, cultural understanding, autonomous learning and
wikilove between human beings.
Stallman emphasizes the importance of Free documentations to optimize the accessibility, i.e., the
inclusive dimension of the Free software philosophy : 'The biggest dehciency in free operating
systems is not in the software-it is the lack of good free manuals that we can include in these
systems. Many of our most important programs do not come with full manuals. Documentation is an
essential part of any software package; when an important free software package does not come with a
free manual, that is a major gap. We have many such gaps today.¯
The documentation can also be coupled by a strong and reactive social support (e.g., on dedicated
forums) to help beginners wishing to use a Free software by answering their specihc questions that
might not have been anticipated by the contributors to the documentation. The potential generation of
new unexpected questions about the resources can thus help enrich the documentation in return and
integrate the 'beginners¯ in the collective intelligence process about the specihc good. It can also favor
the 'horizontal¯ social relations and the lack of discrimination between skilled individuals, amateurs
and beginners, each of these dinerent categories being able to optimize the good's development
process. In a nutshell, it can help stimulate the necessary question - answer virtuous cycle and enrich
the strategic intelligence process. The open and decentralized (i.e., inclusive and non-discriminating)
collective intelligence process will be necessary to favor the emergence of new unexpected
connections of actors between dinerent groups or local networks, and the actualization of new social
structures/movements based on it.
As we said, rich, well managed local memories as well as an optimal interconnection between them, is
necessary to favor the easily identihcation for an individual, group or cluster(s) of the wanted
resources necessary to fulhll his projects, and favor (via serendipity) the discovery of new ones likely
to enrich the analytic process and the perspectives for future projects. According to Besson and Possin
(2001), 'Every producer [of information] needs to have the right to dinuse what he has read or written
by himself. The memory will be in that case a crossroad whose role will be to facilitate and memorize
the transactions (now) of data within the organization.¯ It will thus be fundamental to encourage
everyone to be a part of it and enrich its content as well as its dinusion, i.e., allow the intelligence
process to be optimal via its 'real-time living¯ (Besson and Possin, 2001).
As we said, the full sharing of the memories, composed of the experiences (with successes and
failures) acquired during the development of contents, is fundamental to enrich the global collective
intelligence dynamic and optimize the management of the resources via the common benehcial of the
locally acquired experiences and knowledges. For Besson and Possin, there can be no global and
strategic vision of the intelligence process without a methodical and permanent centralization of the
informations collected. The memory has to be the main dinuser of information, but does not have to
have the monopoly on this activity. An emcient methodology based on the strategic intelligence (via
acquisition of informations, detection of signals and knowledge management) and the inventive
intelligence processes (via serendip attitude,...) will thus have to be exploited in order to detect the
potential opportunities (i.e., new potential connections between networks) and actualize the
connections between informations and knowledges in order to open up new possibilities.
The disinhibited and unrestricted sharing of informational resources, as well as the production of
pertinent questions is likely to stimulate the global evolved collective mind's memory in order to favor
its global enriching (by benehting from the anti-rivalrous nature and the abundant economic dimension
onered by the digital world). It can also favor its accessibility via viable and sustainable centralized
memories (in order to favor its interrogation and exploitation), while allowing anyone to copy/mirror it
in order to strengthen its resilience in case of potential abuses aiming at taking the content down.
1.4.+. The promotion of the contents
The promotion constitutes a core part of the inventive intelligence process we have analyzed. The
exploitation of the dinerent networks and the capacities of the potential inhnity of local
groups/clusters, with their respective external networks, can be exploited to spread the contents and
increase their visibility outside the global community to reach new audiences. The communication
about the produced contents thus has to involve a wide community of members in order to optimize
the innovations' visibility and popularity, as well as communication strategies in order to optimize
their visibility and popularity. The Krita team thus states on the project's omcial website : 'Krita needs
to regularly announce new releases or fund-raising enorts on a variety of websites/blogs/social
networks. This requires a lot of coordination work and perhaps a smart strategist.¯ Social and
technical networks, with phenomena such as copying and mirroring, can also be used to spread it and
make it more visible, attractive, resistant and resilient via the generation of potential 'Flamby enects¯.
Several groups like the FAT Labs propose to be a part of this phase, by qualifying themselves 'the
marketing branch of the open-source community¯ (FAT, 2012). Audio-visual promotional and 'viral¯
contents, like the ones created to promote the Free Universal Construction Kit we will analyze later,
will constitute good means to optimize this process.
I?. The hacking of the semiotic process
. The relation to the obser*ed representamen
.. 'ctual, *irtual and *irtuali2ation < actuali2ation dynamic
"Virtual reality corrupts, absolute reality corrupts absolutely." Roy Ascott
Deleuze (1993) posed the basis of the opposition between actual and virtual, by dehning these two
poles as the two dimensions of an individual's relation to an object. For Lévy (1995), the virtual is not
opposed to the real, but to the actual. He also emphasizes the clear distinction between the possible
and virtual : the possible is already constituted, but evolves in the 'limbos¯, and will get reihed
without a change in its determination or its nature. According to Tisseron (2012) 'Our relationship
with the real world is tense all the time between two poles. One is made of the concrete existence of
the object or the person with whom we relate to : the actual pole. The other is due to our expectations
and our projects on him : the virtual pole. The balance struck between investments vested in one and
the other of these two poles results on what is called our "sense of reality", which is nothing but a frail
and always threatened synthesis. The transition from the actual to the virtual, dehned as a
virtualization movement, is actually the condition for new forms of actualization.
Lévy compares virtualization as a temporary 'desubstantiation¯ dehned by the combination of three
additional characteristics :
- Deterritorialisation : We move from a delimited activity to a delocated functioning. What was
located in the actualization becomes deterritorialised in the virtualization;
- The 'Moebius enect¯ : In the virtualization, the private elements are put in common while the public
elements are subject to anyone's subjective integration, under a personalized form. There is both
individualization and collectivization, which blurs the borders between public and intimate. What was
individualized in the actualization becomes collectivized in the actualization:
- Desynchronization¯ : What was synchronized in the actualization becomes desynchronized in the
In a nutshell, the actualizations are located (instanced in the here and now), synchronized and
particularized : the intimate and public parts are distinguished. Conversely, the virtualization is
deterritorializing (detachment of the here and now), desynchronization and detachment of the
intimate- public landmarks. Tisseron (2006) highlights the fact that the whole process multiplies the
possible, by creating a 'deterritorialised¯, desynchronized and collectivized functioning.
We move from a conhguration characterized by an exclusion of the cohabitation of the contraries to a
one that admits it. This change of identity can be summarized by evoking the transition from
'whether... or....¯ to 'both...and....¯. Lévy also emphasizes that the psychic movement is virtualizing
by essence, and that 'the psychic element oners a canonical example of the virtual¯. For example, an
individual observes a branch, but 'sees¯ a stick. The psychic virtual is thus, according to Tisseron,
permanently actualized through anects, while the human's look on the things surrounding him
permanently virtualize them to adapt them to new needs. He adds that the virtualization allows to
extract temporarily from the present to anticipate the future. The actualization of the virtual gets
incarnated in the new use.
Lévy gives the example of a virtual community : A virtual community can for example be organized
on a peer basis via telematic communication systems. Its members are united by the same interests,
the same problems : geography, contingent, is neither a starting point nor a constraint. Though "out-
there", this community comes alive with passions and projects, connicts and friendships. It lives
without any place of stable reference : everywhere where its mobile members are... or anywhere.
Virtualization reinvents a nomadic culture, not a return to the Paleolithic or the ancient civilizations of
pastors, but conjuring a medium for social interaction where relationships reconhgure with minimal
Is is fundamental to emphasize that the digital online world can be considered as as real as the physical
one. Peter Sunde (2013), co-founder of the Pirate Bay
, thus states that the Internet (i.e., cyberspace)
is for real, just like the physical world, by highlighting his disapproval of the 'In Real Life¯ (IRL)
expression. He prefers instead to use the expression 'Away From Keyboard¯ (AFK). The digital world
thus inherently requires a technical infrastructure (according to Benkler's paradigm), and every
program or 'place¯ within the cyberspace is stored somewhere in a server/computer. We might thus
state that a digital program is, in a sense, located, for dependent on a physical infrastructure.
Moreover, several restriction techniques like the DRMS are used to 'artihcially¯ transform the digital
goods' intrinsic anti-rivalrous and abundant nature into rivalrous ones, bound to specihc online
accounts or technical devices. Pierce (1868) states that 'No present actual thought (which is a mere
feeling) has any meaning, any intellectual value; for this lies not in what is actually thought, but in
what this thought may be connected with in representation by subsequent thoughts; so that the
meaning of a thought is altogether something virtual.¯ For Deleuze (1993), 'The relation between the
actual and the virtual is always a circuit, but in two ways : the actual sometimes refers to the virtual as
other things in large circuits, where the virtual is actualized, sometimes the actual returns the virtual as
its own virtual, in smaller circuits where the virtual crystallizes with the actual¯. We thus consider,
based on these dehnitions, that the virtual and actual poles of the relation to an object (observed as a
representamen) is thus fundamental to consider in the analysis of the semiotic process. Finally, Lévy
emphasizes that if virtualization was only the passage from one reality to a set of possible, it would be
dereifying. But it involves as many irreversibility in its enects, indeterminacy in its process and
invention in its enort as actualization. Virtualization is one of the main vector for the creation of
reality. " He adds that 'When virtualization and actualization are associated, world and life are in a
100 One of the most famous and resilient hle-sharing website.
permanent enriching¯ and emphasizes two key-concepts : heterogenesis (integration of 'otherness¯ in
the interpretative process), as core part of the virtualization process and its contrary : alienation
(reduction to the real, i.e., leashed virtual with no virtualization process).
Virtualization clearly refers to the interpretative process. We will thus integrate this concept, as well as
the virtualization - actualization dynamic
, in our semiotic analysis. We will also consider that this
'psychic movement¯ can be conditioned by several techniques, as well as be 'unleashed¯ by other
'cognitive techniques¯ we will propose and analyze further in this work. It also hts perfectly the
hacking philosophy, based on the disobedience of the objects' 'omcial rules¯ (i.e., functions, design's
model...) in order to use them dinerently (i.e., actualization in new uses). Thus, according to Tisseron
(2012), 'Virtualization is not a way to prefer the psychic representations to reality, but it is a process
that multiplies the multiple representations from a unique stimulus, allows to change of perspective in
the resolution of a problem, to get rid of old thought-patterns, i.e., to innovate, provided it is followed
by an actualization allowing to enjoy its fruits.¯ Virtualization can thus be qualihed as the mental
expression of creativity (favored if unleashed) and the actualization as the concrete expression
confronted to reality (in connict or not with it, e.g., if connicting design between two observed
representamens). The creative framework, concept we will analyze further, will also be fundamental to
consider in this dynamic.
.#. The di@erent kinds of obser*ation
Here are several kinds of observation we will consider throughout this analysis :
- Direct or indirect : Direct observation or presence of third-parties in between the observer and the
observed object that makes the observation possible (e.g., a web browser is necessary to read a
webpage or play an online game) with inherent issues such as dependence on third-parties/in between
elements and social/technical trust, as well as viability and sustainability. In both cases, this social or
technical trust toward the third-parties or the object itself can be :
- 'Blind¯ : Based on a relation of informational/cognitive dependence (e.g., lack of
information/cognitive skills, ignorance about the observed element's composition and functioning due
to its closed/depriving nature and absence of documentation about it);
- 'Enlightened¯ : Based on information and knowledge acquired from 'rational¯ facts (e.g. close social
relation with intimate knowledge or access to an open and decentralized cognitive power exercising a
strong control over the element/entity, via openness and transparency);
- Plain or cypher observation : Likely to favor whether inhibition (if plain) or disinhibition (if cypher);
- Individual or assisted/mediated (social and/or technical) : Socially isolated or surrounded
observation, likely to favor inhibition or disinhibition with exercise of social innuences (whether from
an actual source or a perceived). The observer whether observes the object alone or is assisted in his
process by other entities optimizing it. The observation process can be assisted :
101 From now on, we will write 'V - A dynamic¯ for commodity purposes.
- Socially : Collective observation/reading and collective intelligence via social interactions,
with also potential social innuences likely to induce a cognitive restructuring toward the observed
object. This collective observation can induce a potential cognitive connict if dinerent interpretations
are expressed, i.e., a change of perception/interpretation and innovation. The assisted observation can
thus disrupt/subvert the observation process via the exercise of social innuences induced by social
interactions and a change of attitudes/interpretation of the observed object (Asch, 1970). It can also
enrich it via the collective intelligence phenomenon and the collective reading practice (Besson &
Possin, 2001). The collective observation process can also depend, as we have already analyzed, on the
group's social norms such as objectivity or originality (Doms & Moscovici, 1976);
- Technically : Via smart, connected tools allowing the individual to 'augment¯ his observed
reality, by providing him with with new informations likely to favor or weaken his observation process.
The assisted observation will share some similarities with the 'assisted daydreaming¯ concept
emphasized by Tisseron (2012).
- The complete or incomplete observation : Observation of the object's nature (technical, legal,....) and
of both its content and code (i.e., composition). A complete observation is necessary to develop a
stronger knowledge and a more accurate observation, for only way to ensure the object's viability (i.e.
make sure the code matches the content). For example, a Free software with its inherent possibility to
read/audit its source code to detect any potential malicious features generating a 'deceptive¯ content
and 'damaged¯ good. The incomplete observation, based on the 'content-only¯ observation, induces a
biased observation and interpretation, for the individual is forbidden to access key informations about
the object's design and complementary informations such as commentaries from the object's
developers present in a digital program's code.
We will also consider the observation process as inherently contextualized (with social, technical,
hnancial and legal dimensions). For example, the observation of a closed/depriving digital
representamen within a silo
. The consideration of this context will be necessary to optimize the
interpretation process. Some observation contexts can thus exercise a strong social innuence (via a
permanent tracking/monitoring,...) and compliance toward the rights holder's intellectual property,
favored by the fusion between law and code likely to modify/condition the observation context and
process. Seemel (2014), artist and Free culture activist, emphasizes that the context of observation is
fundamental in the observation and interpretation processes. The social context is thus likely to be a
source of whether impoverishment of the observation and interpretative processes (via the individual's
inhibited relation to the observed object), or of enriching (with social interactions likely to induce a
cognitive connict via divergent interpretations of the same object, i.e., a potential change of attitudes
(via validation process and re-observation integrating new elements about it). It can also favor the
collective intelligence, i.e.,the development and exploitation of informations and knowledge,
collectively developed/acquired, likely to enrich the interpretation of the representamen. For example,
the observed object's viability can be optimized via a collective reading of its source-code; a collective
V - A dynamic is also likely to enrich the object's interpretative possibilities, via the actualization of
102 We will dehne this concept and the issues it involves in the observation process later.
new uses or the modihcation and enriching of new functionalities. Finally, the creative framework
(Ancel, 2006) can whether leash or unleash the interpretation process and the V - A dynamic, i.e. the
creative and inventive thoughts/processes.
.%. The di@erent kinds of relation to the ob6ect
The relations of an individual to an object can be :
- Owned or rented : The individual whether possesses full rights on it (if owned), or is
restricted/constrained in his relation to it (if rented). For example, a digital hle purchased on an online
commercial silo is solely rented, and the individual having purchased it is only granted the right to
read it under strict conditions. If the object is branded, the individual might own it as an object (e.g., if
physical good such as shoes) but not as a brand brand being simultaneously interpreted when
observing it (e.g., the Nike brand, strictly owned by the the Nike company);
- Branded or generic : relation to a familiar brand (commitment, history with it, part of the
individual's life and culture likely to favor the freezing of the semiotic process and generate a hnal
interpretamen/interpretant) or to a generic/neutral object/representamen;
- Hierarchical : Master/slave or slave/master relation (e.g. if branded object, the individual can be a
'slave¯ both toward the object (e.g. cognitive dependence,...) and/or the brand it is interpreted as
standing for);
- Familiar or non-familiar : The individual, when observes a familiar object, possess a cognitive
certainty and stability which can be induced by habit as well as a strong commitment toward it, and
favor cognitive biases shaping/conditioning his observation and interpretative process. This
conditioning is likely to freeze the semiotic process via a hnal logical interpretant (Peirce, 1910), as
well as positive attitudes toward it (Courbet, 2014) and a crystallized observation/interpretation
(leashed virtual and crystallization of attitudes);
- The plain (identihed) or cypher (anonymous) relation : Encrypted or plain (e.g. with HTTPS,
encrypted or HTTP/unencrypted protocols), within a silo or a Free environment,...
.+. The dimensions of the mind
Based on these dinerent paradigms, we will divide, in our analysis, the virtual pole of an individual's
relation to an object in two 'states¯, which emphasize the dinerent issues we will analyze all along this
work :
- Leashed : Conditioned by the representamen's reality (e.g., design
renecting specihc intentions from
authors or rights holders) with rigid interpretation (matching the author/rights holders' intentions)
and/or the individual's inherent cognitive biases weakening his interpretation of the observed
103 Important concept we will analyze later.
- Unleashed : Rich interpretation beyond the observed representamen's omcial 'interpretative rules¯.
We will analyze these two dimensions later, for we consider it is important to hrst introduce and
analyze other key-concepts. We are now going to analyze the semiotic process, by introducing a key-
element which constitutes a fundamental part of our semiotic hacking paradigm : the interpretamen.
.1. The interpretamen in the semiotic process
For Peirce (1931), a sign is something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or
capacity. It addresses somebody, that is, creates in the mind of that person an equivalent sign, or
perhaps a more developed sign. That sign which it creates he calls the interpretant of the hrst sign. The
sign stands for something, its object. It stands for that object, not in all respects, but in reference to a
sort of idea, which he has sometimes called the ground of the representamen. The interaction between
the representamen, the object and the interpretant is referred as 'semiosis' (ibid., 5.484). In other
words, he states that a sign is a sign because it is interpreted by somebody and that interpretation
creates a new sign, the interpretant, which would be an idea that the observer has about the original
sign. The representamen is similar in meaning to Saussure's signiher whilst the interpretant is similar
in meaning to the signihed (Silverman, 1983).
Frasca (2007) emphasizes that Peirce's model of sign does not take into account that the
representamen could be dynamic, which is necessary to analyze and explain simulations. He thus
proposes an extension of this model by adding another element : the interpretamen, which denotes the
idea the individual has about the representamen. This new element is thus necessary to optimize the
semiotic analysis and the understanding of dynamic representamens (i.e., composed of multiple states
standing for dinerent objects). He gives the example of a Transformer toy, composed of multiple
states (each one standing for a specihc '¯source object¯, but requiring to be fully understood to be
aware of this 'dynamic¯ nature (i.e., accurate interpretamen).
To be aware of this nature requires to manipulate the toy in order to 'activate¯ the dinerent designed
states, and to be aware of a specihc 'rule of behavior¯ :
As Murray (1997) states, one of the main pleasures of digital artifacts is transformation. By
applying a rule of behavior (i.e. to manipulate the toy in certain way), the player discovers that
the robot can become a plane. In other words, the player discovers the possibilities of the system
through manipulation. As Aarseth (1997) explains, this manipulation is not trivial, such as the
nip of pages in a book, but requires that the player get engaged into a process of decision-
making that will anect his experience of the system. This process of manipulation and
transformation is what renders possible the interpretation of the multiple facets of a simulation.
This concept can however, according to him, not only be applied to simulations but to any kind of
signs. By separating Peirce's category of representamen in two dinerent ones (the representamen and
interpretamen), he operates a dinerentiation not considered in traditional semiotics, for the reason that
signs usually have only one state and remain unmodihed for dinerent observers.
The term 'cognitive framework¯ refers to the interpretive system through which individuals process
information and make sense of their experiences (Weick, 2001). Mutual understanding depends upon
this shared interpretive system (Chia, 2000; Taylor & Roichaud, 2004). Dinerentiating the
representamen and the interpretamen thus allows to analyze specihc signs like 'works in movement¯
(Eco, 1989) such as cybertexts, toys or works of art. Frasca adds that 'movement¯ must be understood
in the same way as Murray's concept of 'transformation¯ in computer software where he includes,
among others, Calder's mobiles¯ (a type of kinetic sculpture constructed to take advantage of the
principle of equilibrium). The interpretamen analysis leads him to emphasize key elements which will
structure our semiotic hacking paradigm : the representamen's design and design's model. We inform
the reader that we will, from now on, refer most of the time as the representamen to qualify an object
'observed and interpreted as a representamen¯ by an individual, i.e., triggering both an interpretamen
and an interpretant in his mind as well as a potentially inhnite 'semiotic process¯.
.4. The representamen3s design and design3s model
We will consider the 'design¯ based on Stallman's 'defective by design¯ paradigm and will take into
account the designer(s)' potentially 'malicious¯ intentions toward the representamen's interpretation.
The representamen's design will thus refer to its 'conceptual nature¯, i.e., its intrinsic nature as
thought and determined by its creator(s)/rights holder(s).
Here are the characteristics of design we
will consider in our work :
- Technical dimension :
- Open or closed : Allowed access or not to its structure and composition (source code or 'recipe¯);
- 'Complete¯ or 'defective¯ : With the representamen's full possibilities likely to be explored or
restricted, for example via DRMs restricting its complete functioning, observation and use, i.e.,
'damaging¯ it (Stallman, 2010);
- Connicting or interoperable : Discriminating representamen not tolerating external elements
except the ones determined by the creator(s) or neutral;
- Static or dynamic : One 'state¯ or several ones designed and likely to be observed (e.g., work in
movement which can be transformed, modihed and adapted);
- Plain or cypher : A digital representamen can be encrypted to prevent its identihcation and/or its
reading (Okhin, 2013) or plain (meaningfully observable by anyone without a necessary decryption
- 'Perishing¯ or sustainable : Designed to be obsolete (e.g., rivalrous nature of a good and
104 As we will see, the rights holders (who might be dinerent from the object's creator), are likely to exercise a strong
innuence on the determination of the object's design.
programmed obsolescence of a closed/depriving software or hardware according to Zimmermann,
2014) or sustainable (via open standards, a strong open and decentralized community involved in its
sustaining optimizing the representamen's resilience via the possibility for anyone to copy, share,
modify and fork it) such as a Free software according to Zimmermann (2014) or Le Toqueux (2014).
- Legal dimension :
- Free or depriving : Can deprive the individuals of their four freedoms (Free philosophy) or
empower them by allowing them to use, access the core, modify and share the object without
- Branded or generic : With trademark policy and possible legal sanction in case of infringement.
- Cognitive dimension :
- Trustful or deceptive : Based on the representamen's transparency or opacity (e.g., lack of
documentation to favor the ignorance and 'blind trust¯, or freedom to access its source-code/recipe, as
well as strong documentation to favor the 'enlightened¯ one. Can exploit the individuals' trust in order
to favor their innuence and manipulation, i.e., control via the representamen;
- Branded or generic : With branding strategies aiming at conditioning the interpretative process or
without any observable branded sign on it;
- Discriminating or accessible : Requires reading skills to read the object meaningfully. This
problem can be solved via learning (e.g. learning code to read an digital program's source-code and
have the ability to understand its design and composition, as well as to modify it to create new things
from it). It can also be strategic (e.g., use of complex technical words in a conhdential work to prevent
its understanding even if '¯plain¯ reading) and/or encrypted to prevent their identihcation and/or their
- Social dimension :
- Inclusive or exclusive : Whether open (i.e., accessible to anyone) or discriminating (e.g., a
classihed document designed to be accessed and interpreted by a specihc category of individuals or
groups of individuals).
This design can be strategically exploited by the observed representamen's creator(s)/right holder(s) in
order to leash and condition the individual's deduction about it, wit inherent expectations, i.e., the
virtual pole of his relation to it. The observation process can be strategically conditioned (via innuence
and manipulation techniques, technical and legal restrictions,...) to be incomplete if the observed
representamen has been designed to prevent it. For example, a SaaS' intrinsic design makes the
exploration of its possibilities impossible, via the prevention of fundamental practices such as reverse-
engineering (Stallman, 2012).
As digital closed/depriving representamens forbid the individuals to try to understand their
composition and functioning, their only legal interpretation is based on their 'incomplete¯ observation
and manipulation (e.g., via inputs - outputs,...) of their user-interface. A closed and depriving
representamen is thus designed to be interpreted partially, i.e., only with the omcial informations
provided by its creator(s)/rights holder(s). The 'deprived¯ observers are thus not intended/allowed to
observe it outside the dehned 'omcial paths¯, and thus develop an incomplete interpretation of the
observed representamen's nature. They are legally forced (for getting other informations than the
omcially provided ones is considered illegal) to blindly trust the omcial informations provided by its
creator(s)/rights holder(s). Zimmermann (2014), Stallman and Falkvinge (2013) thus all consider that
closed/depriving programs are inherently deceptive and defective and should not be trusted. Only Free
programs (common goods respecting the user's fundamental freedoms) have to be considered for a
trusted digital experience.
The representamen's can imply a 'design's model¯. This concept was introduced by Johnson-Laird
(1986) in his book Mental Models and became a crucial concept in HCI (Human-Computer
Interaction). Norman (1990) dehnes it in Design oJ E·er,da, 1hings as the idea that a user has of a
system based on his interactions with it. He states that people form mental models through experience,
training, and instruction. Dix, et al. (1993) state that mental models are often partial : the person does
not have a full understanding of the working of the whole system. They are unstable and are subject to
change. They can be internally inconsistent, since the person may not have worked through the logical
consequences of their beliefs. They are often unscientihc and may be based on superstition rather than
evidence. However, often they are based on an incorrect interpretation of the evidence. Frasca states
that the key of this dehnition is in the words 'incorrect interpretation¯ : 'Semiotics only analyzes
interpretations : it does analyze signs as it, independently on what were the intentions of the entity that
emitted it. On the other hand, HCI's goal is to make sure that the designer's intentions match the user's
interpretation. In other words, that the user's mental model is identical to the design's model. However,
HCI theorists' idea of interpretation of simulations heavily relies on the designer's intention. They
usually pay attention to what the author meant and not on what is interpreted by the observer.¯
Similarly, Eco (1979) has presented the concept of a 'model reader¯ that the author has in mind when
creating his work. The 'model reader¯ is an ideal reader that is 'supposedly able to deal
interpretatively with the expressions in the same way as the author deals generatively with them.¯
The mental model concept hts the virtual pole of an individual's objectal relation to a representamen
we have analyzed. Like the virtual pole, it is often biased and based on anects, cognitions and habits
about it (Tisseron, 2012), likely to evolve and induce new actualized models. Mental models and
preconceptions, similar to prejudices, are likely to induce a discrimination toward the observed
representamen (e.g., refusal to integrate elements likely to induce a cognitive connict). A too much
rigid mental model/categorization process (based on prejudice) can weaken the individual's perception
and adaptation to his familiar semiotic environment as well as his ability to express creativity on it, via
a freezing of his interpretative process. This prejudice and categorization of the observed
representamen can be, just like social categories, developed unconsciously by an individual to
optimize the mobilization of his limited cognitive resources and favor the production of meaning from
his environment. This conditioning can also be favored by innuence and manipulation techniques (e.g.,
exploited in branding strategies) aiming at crystallizing the individual's attitudes toward specihc
objects and by a'blind trust¯ toward the object and its designer(s) likely to favor his cognitive
dependence and the conditioned interpretative process (interpretamen and interpretant).
Nielsen (1995) emphasizes ten general principles for interaction design, probably one of the most well
known set of usability guidelines
- Visibility of system status : The system should always keep users informed about what is going on,
through appropriate feedback within reasonable time;
- Match between system and the real world : The system should speak the users' language, with words,
phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world
conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order;
- User control and freedom : Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly
marked "emergency exit" to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended
dialogue. Support undo and redo;
- Consistency and standards : Users should not have to wonder whether dinerent words, situations, or
actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions;
- Error prevention : Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a
problem from occurring in the hrst place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them
and present users with a conhrmation option before they commit to the action;
- Recognition rather than recall : Minimize the user's memory load by making objects, actions, and
options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to
another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate;
- Flexibility and emciency of use : Accelerators -- unseen by the novice user -- may often speed up the
interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced
users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions : Aesthetic and minimalist design;
- Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of
information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative
- Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors : Error messages should be expressed in
plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution;
- Help and documentation : Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation,
it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to
search, focused on the user's task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large.
These principles are called "heuristics" because they are, according to Nielsen, more in the nature of
rules of thumb than specihc usability guidelines. They also emphasize fundamental principles we have
already analyzed, such as control and freedom for the user, as well as strong documentation and social
support in order to enrich his 'mental model¯ and favor his experience with the system, as well as his
'enlightened trust¯ toward it.
Frasca states that for an individual to discover new states of an observed dynamic representamen (e.g.,
a Transformer toy, with each state standing for dinerent source objects), i.e., to fully experience it, he
needs to apply a specihc rule of behavior : 'In order to fully appreciate the toy you need something
more than the mere object : you need a rule of behavior. In this case, the rule is 'if you perform
certain movements, your toy will change its state¯. Without that rule, the toy is simply a robot; with it,
it becomes a Transformer, a dual state toy.¯ The manipulation of both the observed representamen
and of the context of observation (independent variables) are thus necessary to develop an optimal
relation/experience to it).
Frasca gives another example with the Calder's mobiles : 'Calder's mobiles can be pretty immobile if
there is a lack of wind. Therefore, the perception of the mobile itself, as a representamen, will vary
depending on the amount of wind of a particular moment (or in the ability of the observer to produce
wind or push the structure to make it move).¯ Thus, 'an observer who sees a Calder's mobile without
wind would consider it simply as a statue, without learning its ability to move. The interpretamen in
this case will be dinerent to the one of an observer that can see it moving, even if their interpretation
(interpretant) is similar or dinerent.¯ The perception of the object (as representamen) can thus vary
depending on the context of observation (e.g., a statue observed on a sunny, cloudy or rainy day) or on
the observer's ability to manipulate this context/environment, i.e. to manipulate independent variables
to enlarge and make the observation process more accurate. The rule of behavior can constitute a
necessary mean to optimize the interpretation process via a complete observation of the
representamen and the development of a richer interpretamen considering the representamen's entire
possibilities renected in its dynamic design. Frasca then assumes that the more dinerent the
individuals' interpretamen of an observed representamen (e.g., a text), the more dinerent their
interpretant (e.g., the book the read and interpreted text stands for) is likely to be.
We will emphasize, as we will analyze in detail later, that a work in movement's design can be whether
closed/depriving, open/depriving or Free. We will also extend Norman and Eco's paradigms about
mental models, by integrating the technical and legal dimensions of the systems, for we consider they
constitute major components and issues of the interpretative process.
.5. The complete obser*ation and e$perience (ith a digital representamen
The individual's complete relation to a system is dehned whether by its relation to the interface
(interaction via input - output) and to its source code. The access and possibility to enrich the code
(granted if Free nature) is necessary to actualize new possibilities/functionalities on the user interface,
i.e., enrich the representamen's reality. The observation of a digital system can thus whether be partial
(simple relation to the GUI) or complete (relation to both the source-code and the GUI). The
complete observation (requiring the right to access the source-code, i.e. open nature) is necessary to
ensure the system's viability and explore his possibilities by manipulating its interface (GUI) and
comparing it to the code in order to enrich its interpretation (interpretamen) as whether viable/trustful
or deceptive/treacherous system.
Jordan Mechner (2014), creator of Prince oJ Persia, emphasizes the importance of the analysis of a
digital program's source-code, in order to develop a rich interpretation of its development process and
of its creators' intentions
Video game source code is a bit like the sheet music to a piano sonata that's already been
performed and recorded. One might reasonably ask: If you have the recording, what do you
need the sheet music for?
You don't, if all you want is to listen and enjoy the music. But to a pianist performing the piece,
or a composer who wants to study it or arrange it for dinerent instruments, the original score is
It's possible, up to a point, to reverse-engineer new source code from a published video game,
much as a capable musician can transcribe a musical score from listening to a performance. But
in both cases, there's no substitute for the original document as a direct line to the creator's
intentions and work process. As such, it has both practical and historical value, to the small
subset of the game-playing/music-listening community that cares.
Oliver (2012), one of the Critical Engineering team's member, emphasizes the benehts of the
fundamental 'right to read¯ : 'Finally there is the right to read. Software which allows its source code
to be read innately benehts learning; I can study other people's code, or even the code of the tool I'm
using, to work with it in undocumented, unintended ways or use what I learn to improve my own
software. I can't imagine not having the right to read the software I'm using.¯ The acquisition of
information/knowledge to enrich the interpretation can also so be optimized via an emcient collective
intelligence process (especially if open and decentralized) and a collective reading as part of a well-
managed analytic process (from the strategic intelligence methodology we have analyzed). It is also
necessary to optimize the hacking practice, via the understanding of the observed representamen's
rules and principles, in order to disobey to them and explore the limits of its possibilities (Müller-
Maghun, 2013).
.9. ,etadata to enrich the interpretation of a digital representamen
According to the USGS (United States Geological Survey), metadata describe information about a
dataset, such that a dataset can be understood, re-used, and integrated with other datasets. Information
described in a metadata record includes where the data were collected, who is responsible for the
dataset, why the dataset was created, and how the data are organized. Metadata generally follow a
standard format, making it easier to compare datasets and to transfer hles electronically. Metadata
thus refer to the data providing information about one or more aspects of the data, such as :
- Means of creation of the data;
- Purpose of the data;
- Time and date of creation;
- Creator or author of the data;
- Location on a computer network where the data were created;
- Sandards used.
The USGS emphasizes several key-points about metadata :
- Metadata create longevity for data;
- The use of metadata is necessary to understand and re-use data;
- Access to searchable metadata helps avoid data duplication and reduces workload;
- Metadata enables the sharing of reliable information;
- Metadata transcend people and time;
- Data are not complete without a metadata record.
For example, a digital image may include metadata that describe its resolution, its date of creation, its
author, the tool used to create it, etc while a text document's metadata may contain information about
its length, its author, its date of creation, as well as a short summary. They can constitute an
opportunity to enrich the interpretative process, as well as a major threat for the individuals' privacy if
not well managed. They can thus :
- Allow to detect and interpret some contradictions between the author's public attitudes and his
private one. For example, a logo designed by a Free software activist can reveal, when inspection of
the metadata, that it was actually designed via a closed/depriving software, i.e., in total contradiction
with his omcial values;
- Favor the identihcation of an author, who would not want his identity to be revealed. A clear
example comes from François Fillon, French Politician who created a Twitter account under the
pseudonym @fdebeauce. The inspection of the avatar's picture prohle allowed internauts to identify
this individual behind the account, the precise location of the place the picture was taken as well as
personal informations such as his mail address.
- They can allow to develop a clear understanding about the individual's activities, even without having
access to the document the metadata refers to. This last point is really important, as demonstrates the
EFF campaign against NSA surveillance called 'Why metadata matter¯ (see Annexe 1). They thus
emphasize the fact that even if the NSA does not have the legal right to access digital contents
produced by an individual or a group of individual, it is perfectly possible for this organization, as well
as for any third-party intercepting these contents, to develop a clear understanding and rich
interpretation of these individuals' activities.
.:. !ecepti*e designs and mental models of a digital representamen
A digital representamen's deceptive design can be observed both in its code and content dimensions. A
program's GUI
is usually designed to be attractive and intuitive, but is less rich in information than
the program's source code, with comments from developers favoring its interpretation (Stallman,
2012). Its 'clean¯ nature can be strategic to favor the individual's focus on really few informations and
favors his use of the system by not being overwhelmed with too much informations about the system
(in accordance to Nielsen's heuristic principles). This technique can however also be used to deceive
the user, by favoring the development of a simple interpretamen and weakens his interpretative
process by luring his observation : while the program's GUI is composed of only a few 'omcial¯
elements, its source-code might actually host many hidden malicious features such as DRMs,
backdoors or trackers.
The mental model of a digital system is usually formed largely by the interpretation of its perceived
actions (outputs) and its visible interface (UI). Frasca emphasizes that the designer's usual goal is to
reduce the distance between the representamen and the interpretamen. We will consider that this goal
can concern both deceptive by design (closed/depriving and DRMized programs) or viable (open or
Free ones) and can be achieved whether via :
- Deception/disempowerment : With closed/depriving technical and legal dimensions favoring a
cognitive dependence toward the representamen's omcial informations, i.e., a 'blind trust¯ toward it,
or strong branding strategies aiming at conditioning the interpretation process, via a crystallization of
attitudes toward the representamen
; or
- Empowerment : Via an open or Free nature, allowing the individuals to develop a rich and accurate
interpretation of the representamen's reality.
The design's model of the system can thus aim at deceiving the user and exploit his trust toward the
system in order to favor the exercise of power/control over him by the system's true owner. Several
techniques can be used such as :
- The illusion of ownership : the individual believes he has a legal control over it, whereas the
representamen's rights are entirely owned by the entity commercializing it (e.g., a digital hle
108 'Graphical User Interface¯.
109 We will analyze it later.
purchased on a silo
- The illusion of control : Master/slave relation, with the representamen exercising an abusive control
over a voluntarily deprived and alienated individual (cognitive and legal dimensions);
- The illusion of viability and security : with 'blind trust¯ and the exploitation by the representamen's
designer(s)/rights holder(s) of deceptive terms to qualify it such as 'trusted computing¯ or 'secure
- The illusion of freedom : The individual falsely believes he is granted freedom via the
representamen. This perception can be favored via manipulation techniques exploiting it to favor the
voluntary compliance to the representamen's rules;
- The illusion of distinctiveness : The individual perceives and interprets the representamen as
'unique¯, whereas it is actually a generic and standardized object. This perception can be favored via
an emcient branding strategy protecting a specihc identity we will analyze more in detail further.
The interpretamen can moreover possess some constraints necessary to consider in order to optimize
the observation and interpretation processes. Constraints to be considered can come from :
- Specihc unconscious features shaping the individual's experience : Tailored experience with the
observed representamen, e.g., 'hlter bubble¯;
- The individual's limited cognitive resources : Favoring the categorization process, with inherent
prejudice and discrimination phenomena;
- The creative framework
(Ancel, 2006) : Likely to shape the interpretation via a potential alienation
to the reality (Lévy, 1995).
The intimate understanding of a system, as core part the hacking philosophy is thus necessary to
develop a rich and accurate interpretamen, as well as develop defenses against potential attempts of
abuses from the observed representamen's designer(s)/right(s) holder(s). The full understanding of its
possibilities can only be achieved via the reverse-engineering practice and is fundamental to anticipate
its potential future behaviors, such as the exercise of an arbitrary automatized censorship of contents
or the sending of personal data to unknown third-parties.
.;. Ae*erse engineering as mean to enrich the interpretamen
Reverse-engineering constitutes a core part of the semiotic hacking philosophy. This fundamental
practice is fed and stimulated by a strong curiosity and will to explore the observed representamens'
limits of their possibilities. As we said, the deceptive design of a representamen can be dehned
whether on its code (e.g., via DRMs and 'omcious design¯) or on its content ('dark pattern¯ we will
analyze further). Without the access and reading of the source-code, the individual's interpretamen
can not be complete and accurate. The interpretation process is thus dependent (informational point of
110 We will analyze this issue later.
111 Concept we will analyze later.
view) on the closed/depriving representamen's designer(s)/rights holder(s), and is likely to be more
easily innuenced and manipulated by them through this representamen. It thus can be used, as
Stallman (2012) states, as a 'tool of power¯ against the user.
The reverse-engineering practice can thus allow to understand the observed representamen's rules and
principles, i.e., develop freedom over it, via the possibility to exercise a more important control by
disobeying to them in order to create something new (e.g., by virtualizing the representamen and
actualizing new states/uses based on new dehned rules).
The FAT Lab (2012) emphasizes the importance of reverse-engineering for the exercise of creativity :
'With the Free Universal Construction Kit
, we hope to demonstrate a model of reverse engineering
as a civic activity: a creative process in which anyone can develop the necessary pieces to bridge the
limitations presented by mass-produced commercial artifacts. We hope that the Kit will not only
prompt people to create new designs, but more importantly, to renect on our relationship with material
mass-culture-and the rapidly-evolving ways in which we can better adapt it to our imagination.¯
Laurent Bloch (2014), researcher in cyber-strategy at the Institut Français d'Analyse Stratégique
(IFAS) emphasizes that using something without knowing how it works is the dehnition of
underdevelopment. Learning how digital and technical systems work is thus necessary to not be

Reverse-engineering is thus necessary to develop and exercise a true freedom (via knowledge) over
digital representamens, as well as to understand the new issues of the digital world such as the current
'law is code¯ technological paradigm. It can also be used to decrypt and understand the strategies used
by the program's creator(s) in order to abuse the user, such as :
- Commercial strategies aiming at luring the user : For example, a videogame integrating in its source-
code voluntary locked and hidden characters, so the entity commercializing it can incite the players to
pay (via a DLC) in order to 'unlock¯ them.
- Informations about the representamen's future possibilities : For example, the InJustice . Gods Among
Us videogame whose source-code inspection by players allowed them to discover the names of future
playable characters
This practice can also allow to discover old informations/elements initially dehned but not kept in the
representamen's omcial version, such as designed but abandoned levels in a videogame.
Reverse-engineering, like the manipulation process dehned by Aarseth (2007) is however only
emcient if the individual gets really engaged into a decision-making process that will anect his
experience with the system. This engagement is necessary to produce meaning from the new elements
he observes and interprets during this practice (i.e., producing meaningful informations and
knowledge likely to enrich his interpretation). This cognitive process thus requires specihc skills in
112 Creation we will analyze in detail later.
113 httpC))$)21)
order to decrypt and understand the observed representamen's 'omcious design¯, via for example the
meaningful interpretation of malicious features.
This fundamental practice is however more and more ignored by the individuals, who develop rigid
representations and expectations based on familiarity and blind trust toward attractive devices designed
to be interpreted with a leashed/conditioned virtual pole of the relation to them. In an interview given
to the website
, Oliver (2012) analyzes the phenomenon of internalization of the
closed/depriving softwares' inherent norms and values by the users of these programs, and how it
anect their relation to them : 'We think through tools both before and while we use them and the
more we depend upon a tool the more we are changed by it. In the software space, certain ideologies
and expectations have become deeply rooted. People expect their tools to be 'intuitive', 'seamlessly'
interoperating with other tools. They expect them to look 'sexy', what ever that means. This
symptomatically asserts that not seeing what's going on 'under the hood' is always good and generic
user interface standards is always desireable."
Oliver, Savicic and Vasiliev (2011) developed a new philosophical movement, largely inspired by the
hacking, cypherpunk and Free philosophies, called the Critical Engineering, in which they highlight
the importance for contemporary society of using and manipulating technologies. They wrote a
manifesto where they dehne its ten core principles
0. The Critical Engineer considers Engineering to be the most transformative language of our
time, shaping the way we move, communicate and think. It is the work of the Critical Engineer
to study and exploit this language, exposing its innuence.
1. The Critical Engineer considers any technology depended upon to be both a challenge and a
threat. The greater the dependence on a technology the greater the need to study and expose its
inner workings, regardless of ownership or legal provision.
2. The Critical Engineer raises awareness that with each technological advance our techno-
political literacy is challenged.
3. The Critical Engineer deconstructs and incites suspicion of rich user experiences.
4. The Critical Engineer looks beyond the 'awe of implementation' to determine methods of
innuence and their specihc enects.
5. The Critical Engineer recognises that each work of engineering engineers its user,
proportional to that user's dependency upon it.
6. The Critical Engineer expands 'machine' to describe interrelationships encompassing devices,
bodies, agents, forces and networks.
7. The Critical Engineer observes the space between the production and consumption of
technology. Acting rapidly to changes in this space, the Critical Engineer serves to expose
moments of imbalance and deception.
8. The Critical Engineer looks to the history of art, architecture, activism, philosophy and
invention and hnds exemplary works of Critical Engineering Strategies, ideas and agendas from
these disciplines will be adopted, re-purposed and deployed.
9. The Critical Engineer notes that written code expands into social and psychological realms,
regulating behaviour between people and the machines they interact with. By understanding this,
the Critical Engineer seeks to reconstruct user-constraints and social action through means of
digital excavation.
10. The Critical Engineer considers the exploit to be the most desirable form of exposure.
These principles emphasize fundamental issues we have already analyzed, such as :
- The importance of controlling the technology instead of being controlled by it;
- The necessity to understand its rules and principles in order to exercise freedom;
- The necessity of a critical and renexive relation to the technology;
- The importance of connection between several 'worlds of knowledge¯ in order to stimulate creativity
and produce a 'cross-fertilized knowledge¯.
However, a representamen can, as we said, be designed to make the reverse-engineering practice
impossible (e.g., a SaaS with distant and strongly restricted relation to it). In this case, the leak of
conhdential information (Assange, 2006) becomes the only mean to develop an accurate
understanding of a closed/depriving program. The potential debate, like the worldwide one generated
after Swnowden's revelations. can also favor a regulation from entities exercising control over their
users' program via deceptive by design programs. For example, Microsoft decided to promote a new
transparency policy after the presence of backdoors in their system's source code
), in order to
preserve their users' trust. Closed hardware, such as the iPhone is thus opposed from a design and
philosophical point of view to open hardware (e.g., Raspberry Pi
). These devices are thus designed
to condition and inhibit/leash the semiotic process via their closed/depriving nature. We are now going
to analyze a specihc kind of deceptive design : the 'dark pattern¯.
11/ For example, this website dedicated to the hacking of the hardware :
.. !ark patterns
According to Brignull, et al., (2013), 'A Dark Pattern is a type of user interface that appears to have
been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying insurance with their purchase or
signing up for recurring bills. Normally when you think of 'bad design¯, you think of the creator as
being sloppy or lazy but with no ill intent. This type of bad design is known as a 'UI anti-pattern¯.
Dark patterns are dinerent - they are not mistakes, they are carefully crafted with a solid
understanding of human psychology, and they do not have the user's interests in mind.¯ The collective
states that 'The thing about Dark Patterns is that you design them from the exact-same rulebooks that
we use to enhance usability.¯
This dehnition hts perfectly the HCI's concept of mental model as well as our 'deceptive by design¯
paradigm we have analyzed. Dark patterns are thus strategically designed to deceive the individuals, by
exploiting innuence and manipulation techniques in order to condition their interpretation of the
system, i.e., their virtual pole of their relation to it, with conditioned expectations and preconceptions.
The goal is thus to exploit their cognitive weaknesses in order to exercise an abusive power over them.
Harry Brignull (2013), Independent User Experience Designer, gives a clear example by analyzing a
dark pattern in the iOS operating system
'Let's start with a little game. In iOS, there's an ad tracking feature that allows advertisers to
identify you (albeit anonymously). It's turned on by default. Let's see if we can work out how to
turn it on together. Go into your settings and scroll down. (.).
We've found it! Even better, it says 'Limit ad tracking on¯. So ad tracking is on already. I'm not
being tracked, thank goodness. But wait a minute. It doesn't say 'Ad tracking - on¯ it says
'Limit ad tracking - on¯. So it's a double negative. It's not being limited, so when this switch is
on, ad tracking is actually on. On means on! This is actually a great example of what I dehne as
a Dark pattern. It's a user interface that uses manipulative techniques to get users to do things
they would not otherwise have done.
Here are the several kinds of dark patterns the collective behind the website
- Bait and Switch : The user sets out to do one thing, but a dinerent, undesirable thing happens
instead. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and it is very broad in nature - many dark patterns
involve some kind of bait & switch;
- Disguised Ads : Adverts that are disguised as other kinds of content or navigation, in order to get
users to click on them;
- Faraway Bill : Utility companies traditionally sent out monthly bills by snail mail, but today they tend
to put them online - leading to bills that are rarely seen and easily forgotten. How you receive your
bills is framed by companies as a choice between 'omine¯ and 'online¯, but is in fact also a decision
of 'push¯ versus 'pull¯. With snail mail bills, you received a detailed breakdown each month. With
online bills, few companies will email you the detailed breakdown, citing security concerns. Instead,
you have to remember to log in, then go through the tedious process of navigating to your most recent
bill. As a result, a certain proportion of people just don't bother - and as a result they forget about the
costs of the service, and aren't able to react unexpected additions to the bill;
- Forced Continuity : The user signs up for a free trial on a website, and in doing so they are required
to enter their credit card details. When the trial comes to an end, they automatically start getting billed
for the paid service. The user is not given an adequate reminder, nor are they given an easy and rapid
way of cancelling the automatic renewal. Sometimes this is combined with the Sneak into Basket dark
pattern (as alleged in the Vistaprint class action lawsuit.). This dark pattern was previously known as
'Silent Credit Card Roll-over¯ but was renamed since the term 'forced continuity¯ is already
popularly used in Marketing;
- Forced Disclosure : In return for a free or low-cost action, the site requires the user to disclose
extensive personal information - unnecessary to the transaction in-hand;
- Friend Spam : A site or game asks for your Twitter or email credentials (either via the password
antipattern or via OAuth for an allegedly benign purpose e.g. hnding friends who are already using
that service), but then goes on to publish content or send out bulk messages using your account - i.e.
from you. This technique is commonly used by viruses - but even well-known companies sometimes
engage in 'friend spam¯;
- Hidden Costs : A hidden cost occurs when a user gets to the last step of the checkout process, only to
discover some unexpected charges have appeared, e.g. delivery charges, tax, etc;
- Misdirection : The attention of the user is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from
- Price Comparison Prevention : The attention of the user is focused on one thing in order to distract
its attention from another;
- Privacy Zuckering : 'The act of creating deliberately confusing jargon and user-interfaces which
trick your users into sharing more info about themselves than they really want to.¯ (As dehned by the
EFF). The term 'Zuckering¯ was suggested in an EFF article by Tim Jones on Facebook's 'Evil
Interfaces¯. It is, of course, named after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg;
- Roach Motel : The 'Roach Motel¯ is a broad category of Dark Pattern that subsumes most types
listed on this site. Put simply, a Roach Motel makes it very easy for a user to get into a certain
situation, but then makes it hard for them to get out of it when they realize it is undesirable. Email
newsletter unsubscription is a well known example - whereby it is typically easy to subscribe, but
much more enort is needed to unsubscribe. The revised CAN-SPAM 2008 rules state that this
practice is forbidden for emails that have a primary purpose 'to advertise or promote a commercial
product or service¯. (Unfortunately, CAN-SPAM does not cover 'transactional or relationship¯
- Road Block : When the user's progress to task completion is restricted or stopped by something else
on the screen;
- Sneak into Basket : The user attempts to purchase a specihc item. However, somewhere in the
purchasing journey the site sneaks an additional item into their basket, often through the use of an opt-
out radio button or checkbox on a prior page;
- Trick Questions : The user is required to respond to a question (typically in the checkout process),
which, when glanced upon quickly appears to ask one thing, but if read carefully, asks another thing
entirely. This pattern works because it is normal for users to employ high-speed scan-reading on the
web - see Steve Krug: ¯We don't read pages. We scan them.').
These several kinds of dark patterns highlight classical techniques of mental conditioning, such as the
capture of the individual's attention in order to favor the unconscious overlooking of key - elements
likely to disrupt his interpretation of the observed representamen, as well as his positive cognitive
relation to it. Innuence and manipulation techniques such as foot-in-the-door or abscons trap can also
be used, based on the scaling of commitment toward the system, via the production of more and more
committing actions to favor the crystallization of the individual's attitudes toward it as well as the
probability of future behaviors in its favor.
The individual's mental model, via the crystallization of his attitudes due to his free compliance and
his unconscious overlooking of potentially compromising 'sign-vehicles¯ (likely to trigger dissonant
thought signs inducing a cognitive connict, i.e., uncertainty and instability), can thus be easily shaped
and conditioned. The awareness about these techniques is thus the best way to defend against them,
i.e., to optimize the development and exercise of freedom (with inherent control) over these deceptive
systems. Just like reverse-engineering is a fundamental practice to meaningfully observe and interpret
a closed/depriving representamen (code dimension), the 'deconstruction¯ of these innuence and
manipulation techniques are fundamental to not be deceived by the observed representamen's content.
The individual thus has to exercise his freedom, which inherently induces disobedience according to
Beauvois (2011). This freedom has to be necessarily optimized via the development of knowledge
about both the observed representamen's deceptive nature with specihc techniques likely to be
exploited by its creators and of the potential 'cognitive naws¯ likely to be exploited by them.
We are now going to analyze another kind of deceptive digital system : the online lures.
.#. Bnline lures
Assange (2014) analyzes the online lures, while proposing an interesting solution to solve this
problem : 'The basic internaut uses cryptographic tools every day without even knowing it. Thus, if
you register your password on the Amazon website or that of your bank, there is behind the log -in an
extremely common cryptographic technology, called HTTPS.¯ He then emphasizes fundamental issue
of the cyberspace : 'When you connect to a site , such as the CIA's, how can you be sure that it is the
site of the CIA and not a lure? The answer is in the machine : your Internet browser - let's say Firefox
- possesses, prerecorded, cryptographic keys or certihcates for about sixty private companies, whose
function is to provide the cryptographic keys to all other sites. In theory, this works perfectly in the
best of all worlds. In practice, the sixty private companies that manage the allocation of cryptographic
keys are themselves imperfect ; it happens that some of them, corrupted, deliver false certihcates, or
some cryptographic keys are pirated and therefore false certihcates are manufactured with them. In
other words, the certihcation system has many defaults.¯
Netcraft, an internet services company based in Bath, England, highlights this risk coming from the
manufacturing of false certihcates, and emphasizes a major problem coming from a current
technological trend represented by the use of closed/depriving 'apps¯ : ' The fake certihcates bear
common names (CNs) which match the hostnames of their targets (e.g. As the
certihcates are not signed by trusted certihcate authorities, none will be regarded as valid by
mainstream web browser software; however, an increasing amount of online banking tramc now
originates from apps and other non-browser software which may fail to adequately check the validity
of SSL certihcates.¯ They add that researchers from Stanford University and The University of Texas
at Austin found broken SSL certihcate validation in Amazon's EC2 Java library, Amazon's and
PayPal's merchant SDKs, integrated shopping carts such as osCommerce and ZenCart, and AdMob
code used by mobile websites. A lack of certihcate checks within the popular Steam gaming platform
also allowed consumer PayPal payments to be undetectably intercepted for at least 3 months before
eventually being hxed.
Once again, this highlights the major risk of using not viable closed/depriving programs which can not
be audited and corrected by an open and decentralized worldwide community in case of naw likely to
be exploited by potential attackers. The use of Free and richly supported/documented web browsers,
such as Firefox or Chromium, is thus fundamental to decrease this risk inherent to the cyberspace.
Online lures can however not only be created by private entities. Newstweek is a clear example of how
easy online information and digital systems can be manipulated by anyone to deceive individuals and
exploit their trust in order to abuse them and exercise a control over their interpretation process. It is a
device designed by Oliver and Vasiliev (2011), two members of the Critical Engineering core team.
Here is how the omcial website of the project dehnes it
Newstweek is a device for manipulating news read by other people on wireless hotspots. Built
into a small and innocuous wall plug, the Newstweek device appears part of the local
infrastructure, allowing writers to remotely edit news read on wireless devices without the
awareness of their users.
While news is increasingly read digitally, it still follows a top-down distribution model and thus
often falls victim to the same political and corporate interests that have always sought to
manipulate public opinion.
Newstweek intervenes upon this model, providing opportunity for citizens to have their turn to
manipulate the press; generating propaganda or simply 'hxing facts' as they pass across a
wireless network. As such, Newstweek can be seen as a tactical device for altering reality on a
per-network basis.
Newstweek also signals a word of caution, that a strictly media-dehned reality is a vulnerable
reality; that along the course of news distribution there are many hands at work, from ISP
workers, numerous server administrators and wireless access point owners.
Moreso, with the increasing ubiquity of networks and their devices comes greater ignorance as
to their function, onering a growing opportunity for manipulation of opinion, from source to
In a nutshell, this invention can be dehned as 'a small innocuous wallplug allowing anyone to remotely
manipulate news read by other people on wireless networks¯ and aims at exploiting journalists' trust
and deceive them in order to manipulate them by conditioning their informational environment fed by
major online sources. It has thus been designed to raise awareness about the easy manipulation of
information and the important issue represented by a 'blind trust¯ toward mainstream informational
sources. The danger constituted by a 'strictly media-dehned reality¯ can be connected with
Schneidermann's paradigm about independence we have analyzed, based on the necessity to
disconnect from the mainstream 'media circus¯ in order to develop a cognitive sovereignty. This
disconnection is thus necessary to not be innuenced and conditioned by the 'agenda setting¯
phenomenon. The doubt and questioning of the informational sources (core part of the culture of
intelligence) is also necessary to optimize the cognitive resistance against potential abuses or strategies
of disinformation or propaganda orchestrated by media corporations.
Assange also analyzes two fundamental questions to be considered during an exchange of digital hles
via the internet network :
- How to be sure of the viability of the document?
- How to be sure that this document has not been intercepted by a third-party in order to modify its
For him, the only viable answer resides in the use of cryptography. It is thus possible to give an
inviolable cryptographic signature to a document, that guarantees its authenticity. He thus depicts his
current ambitious project to solve this major problem : the dinusion on the internet network of
inalterable informations (i.e., with impossibility to modify their source-code), protected from any
private or public interventions.
The representamen's design can thus be strategically deceptive (intended by its creator(s)), in order to
lure the users and condition their interpretation as well as their behaviors toward it. Its
closed/depriving and deceptive design, especially if coupled to an aggressive legal policy from its
rights holder(s) such as legal bullying
, can favor the individual's internalization of its omcial rules
and weaken its virtualization to exercise creativity on it. In other words, it can condition the
'colonized¯ individual's (cognitive dimension) interpretation and leash its scientihc observation
, by
alienating him to these omcial rules. This alienation to the observed representamen's 'omcial reality¯
is likely to condition the individual's expectations (i.e., virtual pole) toward it. The leashed/conditioned
observation (e.g., via restricted manipulation/experimentations or the impossibility to access the
representamen's composition) can strongly weaken the potentiality of unexpected discoveries about
the representamen's features likely to threaten the conditioned interpretation. It thus can decrease the
potentiality of cognitive restructuring toward it via an enriching and development of a rich, complex
and accurate interpretamen (i.e., closed to the representamen's 'objective¯ nature, e.g., with both
understanding of its omcial and omcious design).
A critical relation to an observed digital representamen is thus fundamental in order to decrease the
risk of deception and manipulation, likely to condition the interpretative process. The permanent
questioning, coupled to a rich knowledge about the dinerent potential risks in the digital world, is thus
necessary to optimize the reading process we re about to analyze.
#. The reading process
Reading is a complex process including a combination of perceptual, psycholinguistic and cognitive
abilities (Adams, 1990; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHHD],
2000). We will consider the reading process within both the physical and the digital world for each
possesses, as we will see, specihc characteristics and issues. We will also try to demonstrate the
importance of considering the social, technical and legal dimensions in this process, for they constitute
fundamental parts of it.
#.. Semantic >elds, inference, mental models and reading strategies
Let's hrst consider Eco's 'open work¯ analysis we have introduced earlier. For him, an open work is a
text which is not limited to a single reading or range of readings; it admits complexity (.) and
actually encourages or requires a multiplicity of readings. He gives as example musical compositions
by Stockhausen and Boulez in which the score requires the performers to make choices or interpret
the score in their own manner. He also cites texts which on the surface are more traditional : 'In
Kafka the reader relates to the text on the level of metaphor but without a clear mapping of
metaphors. There is no hxed symbolism by which to unlock the meaning of Gregor Samsa's
metamorphosis. In Joyce's Finnegan's Wake he describes that the use of puns to set up ambiguities.¯
Eco argued, in Opera Aperta (1962), that literary texts are helds of meaning, rather than strings of
meaning, that they are understood as open, internally dynamic. Those works of literature that limit
potential understanding to a single, unequivocal line are the least rewarding, while those that are most
124 Technique we will analyze further.
125 With specihc processes e will analyze later.
open, most active between mind and society and line, are the most lively.
Lévy (1995) analyzes the reading process, by emphasizing the individual's personal cognitive
engagement, necessary to develop an emcient reading : 'Such is the work of reading : from linearity or
initial natness, this act of tearing, wrinkling, twisting, sewing the text opens up a living environment.
The space of meaning does not preexist to the reading. This is by exploring it, mapping it, that we
produce it, that we actualize it.¯. The virtualization - actualization dynamic is thus necessary to
optimize the reading process, by actualizing new interpretative possibilities and exploring new
semantic helds/ranges of reading.
He adds : 'The passages of the text virtually maintain a match, almost an epistolary activity, that we
actualize somehow, by following or not the author's instructions. Factors of the text, we travel from
one edge of the space of meaning to the other, by being helped by the system of addressing and
pointers whose author, publisher, typographer have marked. But we can disobey the instructions, take
short cuts, produce forbidden folds, build secret and clandestine networks, make other semantic
geographies emerge.¯
This analysis of the reading process hts perfectly the hacking philosophy, which places disobedience
to the omcial rules at the core of the expression of creativity. The disobedience to the interpreted
'omcial rules of reading¯ dehned by the author and potentially the rights holder(s) (if dinerent) is thus
necessary to exercise freedom and explore new semantic helds, i.e., exercise creativity via the V - A
dynamic, as well as enrich the representamen's meaning by reframing the classic mental model.
As we said, Eco (1979) emphasized the concept of 'model reader¯, which corresponds to an ideal
reader that is 'supposedly able to deal interpretatively with the expressions in the same way as the
author deals generatively with them.¯ On the same basis, we will emphasize a 'problematic reader¯,
which will refer to a reader developing, consciously or not, a dichotomous or at least discordant mental
model about a work, which threatens its author's intended model, via the potential innuence and
manipulation strategies deployed to favor the matching. The problematic reader of a closed/static work
will thus be an individual who disobeys (consciously or not) its omcial interpretative rules explicated
in its 'strings of reading¯ to virtualize the text and actualize a potential inhnity of new interpretations.
Conversely, the problematic reader of an open work will be an individual who rigidly interprets the
open nature of the read work as 'internally static¯, with one single intended 'omcial¯ interpretation.
This individual, by focusing and sticking too much, for example, to the words instead of the meaning
('poor reader¯ according to Anastasiou and Griva, 2009) might thus not produce the intended
psychological engagement in his process, and not exercise the intended freedom and creativity. The
alienation to the text's omcial interpretative rules (e.g., if designed static work and intended rigid
mental model), can thus be prevented by the adoption of a 'problematic reading¯ approach, based on
this disobedience and the exploration of new semantic helds and interpretative potentialities likely to
be actualized.
The read text can thus be 'hacked¯, according to Stallman's dehnition. The individual can freely
explore the limits of the text's designed 'semantic structure¯ in order to develop and enrich his
'cognitive map¯ likely to be exploited and constantly improved (e.g., via collective intelligence) to
optimize his navigation process. This cognitive process is in a way similar to the students' exploration
of the roofs and tunnels of the MIT campus where this philosophy was born. The taste for exploration,
necessary to explore the 'semantic on-piste¯ (i.e., outside the omcial tracks dehned by the author(s))
and part of the 'reader's model¯) also hts perfectly Franceschi's spirit of exploration we have analyzed.
Thus, the individual's love for cognitive uncertainty, non-conformism (e.g., dinerent from the
majority's mental model) and 'risk¯ (inherently induced by the disobedience to the interpreted text's
omcial rule) can strongly optimize the individual's cognitive exploration and navigation processes. It
can also favor the discovery of initially unexpected interpretative potentialities likely to be actualized
in new original possible ones. Moreover, this actualization is likely, if expressed publicly, to generate a
cognitive connict likely to induce innovation within a social group.
Guthrie and Wigheld (1999) emphasize that the readers' involvement in the text is of crucial
importance since they should develop, modify and even renect on all or some of the ideas displayed in
the text. This emphasis of the importance of psychological engagement in the reading process is
similar to the manipulation process, as dehned by Aarseth (2007). The reader thus has to mobilize and
emciently manage his cognitive resources in order to optimize his reading and interpretative process.
This is fundamental to discover the 'internally dynamic¯ nature of an open text as well as to optimize
its 'symbolic¯ cognitive appropriation and its enriching via an 'unleashed¯ V - A dynamic leading to
the actualization of new interpretations/meanings stimulating the semiotic process. The individual thus
has, to optimize his reading process (i.e., unleash the exploration of its possibilities as well as the
creation of new ones) to freely manipulate, transform (Murray (2007), 'disrupt¯ and enrich the read
text (BNF, 2014). All these fundamental processes for the exercise of freedom and creativity in this
process require, as we will see, a favorable 'creative framework¯.
#... Inference and mental models
The inference is a logical operation, i.e., an 'educated guess¯ that an individual makes based on the
information which he perceives and interprets, combined with his own experience. The individual's
inferential process while reading is based on the interpretation of 'textual evidences¯ triggering it.
Textual evidences refer to specihc informations within a text that we use to support our inferences.
Inference is based on the individual's culture and experience, which has to be exploited to develop and
optimize his interpretative process. As we will see, the inferential process and the mental model
concept we have analyzed earlier are intrinsically bound. The inferential process can be composed of
the inductive, deductive and abductive ones
Textual evidences and clues voluntarily left by the author to orient the interpretative process in the
direction of his work's 'design's model¯ can be whether obvious or pretty subtle, depending on his
intentions toward it. It can also involve the assumption of a fundamental culture for the reader to
possess and mobilize in order to fully understand the referential evidences (i.e., characteristics of the
author's 'model reader¯). For example, the author can voluntarily assume that the reader of his text,
126 We will analyze these processes later.
which is a part of a global story, has initially read his previous works in order to detect and understand
the references to them via subtle hints. Evidences can thus be used by the author to orient the reading,
via the emphasis of clear or vague directions, i.e., as pointers and markers to indicate whether clearly
or vaguely the 'semantic path¯ likely to be followed or 'hacked¯ in order to develop an accurate or
personal/subjective (if intended) interpretation. The detection of these evidences is thus fundamental
for the reader to develop a rich and accurate interpretamen matching the text's design's model. As
Charles Eames (designer, architect and hlm director) states, "The details are not the details. They
make the design.¯
However, not all detected 'textual evidences¯ might actually constitute fundamental elements to
interpret correctly in order to develop an accurate interpretation of a work. Some might have been left
unconsciously and involuntarily by the author, and might be correctly interpreted as giving keys of
understanding about the work's 'meta-textual context¯. Let's thus consider a reader who particularly
appreciates a specihc author. This reader learns, by watching an interview given by this author, that
this individual has a particular anection for straw hats for he usually interprets them (purely personal
and arbitrary convention) as standing from the 'freedom¯ value. The reader thus integrates this
particular information in his knowledge about the author. He then reads one of the author's book
including the reference to a straw hat that has apparently no real importance in the story. He then
might interpret this reference to this object not as a textual evidence aiming at helping and orienting
his interpretation process, but as the expression of the author's unconsciousness during his writing
process. This inference can be strengthened by the reader's supposition that the object's purely
conventional signihcation is not known by anyone, except the individuals who might have watched the
same interview (idea comforted by the low number of view on the website it was uploaded). In other
words, he assumes (personal interpretation) that this detected evidence is hardly probable to be an
actual part of the work's 'design's model¯ developed and intended by the author.
We will also assume that the inferential process can be innuenced by the individual's feeling of
freedom in his reading and interpretation. Thus, a reader is likely to develop a reactance phenomenon
if feels threatened in his interpretative freedom, via for example the perception and detection of too
much explicit 'strings¯, 'trails¯ and 'pointers¯ left by the author as too much 'rigid¯ (Lévy, 1995;
Eco, 2000). This reader might thus interpret these evidences as a will from the author to condition and
leash his interpretation of a work, i.e., his reading process. The preservation of a certain perceived
freedom to explore new personal interpretative paths can be favored by the use of inferential texts
(i.e., designed to open up new creative possibilities via its suggestive/open nature). The individual
might also interpret these explicit evidences as a sign of despise from the author, who does not
considers his readers as capable enough to correctly interpret his work without clear signs. As we said,
culture, but also knowledge and experience, is fundamental for the reader to optimize his reading
process. We will thus assume that the higher the individual's culture, knowledge about the read text
and reading experience (i.e., good reader with reading strategies we will analyze further), the higher
his degree of freedom over his interpretation process. In other words, the more 'distinctive¯ and
'subjective¯ nature of the individual's mental model, the higher his exercised freedom toward the read
text's 'design's model¯, via a conscious or unconscious disobedience to its omcial rules, i.e., the less
risk of alienation to its reality, via an unleashed virtual pole of his relation to it. The not matching can
generate frustration from both the author and the reader. For example, Jonathan Blow, game-designer
and creator of Braid, declared that he was disappointed that certain hints he had left in his work had
not been remarked and interpreted by the players and the journalists.
Poetry is a good example of 'dynamic textual representamen¯ (i.e., designed to stimulate the
inferential process) as a poet thus usually tries to say a great deal with little words. This characteristics
brings us to emphasize the obvious connection between this particular literary style and the hacking
philosophy : hacking, like poetry, focuses on emciency in the creative process. Stallman (2012) thus
emphasizes that one of computer hackers' hobby is to write an 'emcient¯ code, i.e., complex actions
with as few command as possible. He thus qualihes some poets and composers, like Guillaume de
Machaut, as hackers. Jim Morrisson also emphasizes the intrinsically dynamic nature of poetry : 'Real
poetry doesn't say anything ; it just ticks on the possibilities. Opens all doors. You can walk through
anyone that suits you.¯ Aesthetics, at the core of both poetry and the hacking philosophy, is
emphasized by Jay Honman (2012), who states that 'Beauty can be found in complex systems that
are driven by simple principles.¯
According to Trachan and Terry (2000), specihc poetic styles such as metaphor, simile or metonym
create a resonance between otherwise disparate images-a layering of meanings, forming connections
previously not perceived. The several dehned meanings of interpretation (i.e., dynamic representamen)
are thus part of the same 'design's model¯.
We will emphasize three specihc poetic genres that seem to illustrate emciently our analysis :
- The allegory : According to Bedford/St. Martin's, it is 'A whole world of symbols. Within a
narrative form, which can be either in prose or verse, an allegory tells a story that can be read
symbolically. Interpreting an allegory is complicated because you need to be aware of what each
symbol in the narrative refers to. Allegories thus reinforce symbolic meaning, but can also be
appreciated as good stories regardless of their allegorical meaning.¯ In a nutshell, an allegorical poem
has two meanings : a literal and a symbolic one. An allegorical story is a narrative having a second
meaning beneath the surface one. It is thus deigned to grant the reader the possibility to freely explore
the text's actualized 'vast semantic helds¯, while making a potential inhnity of connections and
actualizing new meanings and interpretations. It can also be used to propose a work accessible to any
kind of readers, via the possibility of whether 'simple¯ or 'complex¯ (i.e., cognitively demanding)
- The metaphor : A metaphor is a hgure of speech that describes a subject by asserting that it is, on
some point of comparison, the same as another otherwise unrelated object. In other words, it is a
hgure of speech that compares two unlike things without using like or as. Richards, in 1he Philosoph,
oJ Rhetoric (1936), describes a metaphor as having two parts : the tenor and the vehicle. The tenor is
the subject to which attributes are ascribed, and the vehicle is the object whose attributes are
borrowed. Cognitive linguists such as Lakon (1980; 2003) and Kövecses (2002) emphasize that
metaphors serve to facilitate the understanding of one conceptual domain, typically an abstract one
like "life" or "theories" or "ideas", through expressions that relate to another, more familiar conceptual
domain, typically a more concrete one like "journey", "buildings" or "food". According to Kövecses
(2002), 'A convenient short-hand way of capturing this view of metaphor is the following : conceptual
domain (A) is conceptual domain (B), which is what is called a conceptual metaphor. A conceptual
metaphor consists of two conceptual domains, in which one domain is understood in terms of another.
A conceptual domain is any coherent organization of experience. Thus, for example, we have
coherently organized knowledge about journeys that we rely on in understanding life.¯ Metaphor is
however not necessarily linguistic. Metaphors can thus also map experience between two nonlinguistic
realms. Blechner (2001), in 1he Dream Frontier, describes musical metaphors in which a piece of
music can "map" to the personality and emotional life of a person. Musicologist Leonard Meyer
(1956) demonstrated, in Emotion and Meaning in Music, that purely rhythmic and harmonic events
can express human emotions. As we will see, the use of metaphor will be really useful to optimize the
'hybridization of knowledge¯ process;
- Irony : Partridge (1997), in Usage and Abusage, writes that "Irony consists in stating the contrary of
what is meant.¯ Fowler (1926) states that the use of irony may require the concept of a double
audience : 'Irony is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that
hearing shall hear and shall not understand, and another party that, when more is meant than meets the
ear, is aware both of that more and of the outsiders' incomprehension. This analysis is pretty
interesting, for it emphasizes the consideration for two possible 'mental models¯ from the readers, i.e.,
the consideration of two categories of individuals exposed to the same representamen but developing a
dichotomous interpretation, with the second category likely to discriminate the hrst one. We will also
presume that the hacking philosophy and its 'playful cleverness¯ can also optimize the use, as well as
the detection, of irony.
The 'poetic attitude¯ is likely to be applied to many dinerent creative activities, and can allow the
individual to stimulate his creative intelligence, by getting used to unleash his interpretative process, as
well as his V - A dynamic, via an optimized mobilization of his cognitive resources and culture. Open
works, designed to favor the diversity of interpretations via a dynamic nature triggering, if emciently
interpreted, vast and rich 'semantic helds¯, can thus constitute ideal genres to stimulate the readers'
creativity ans well as favor their cognitive engagement in the reading process. In this sense, poetry thus
hts perfectly the semiotic hacking philosophy, for it is designed to be interpreted as standing for
several possibilities (i.e., the dinerent 'layers of meaning¯ dehned by the author) and is likely to be
enriched by a potential inhnity of new ones, via its intrinsic virtualizing nature. Miller, from Sunolk
University, emphasizes that exploring the patterns created by the formal elements of literature helps
the reader to understand more deeply a text's meaning and the nuances that enrich that meaning, and
that is kind of formal close reading of the text is fundamental to any analysis of literature.
#..#. Code is poetry
One famous slogan within the computing domain is 'Code is poetry¯. Ishac Bertran, interaction
designer and artist whose work revolves around the relationship between people and technology,
compares code and poetry, by emphasizing their respective characteristics
- Poetry is considered a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative
qualities. It contains multiple interpretations and therefore resonates dinerently in each reader;
- Code is the language used to communicate with computers. It has its own rules (syntax) and
meaning (semantics). Like literature writers or poets, coders also have their own style that include -
strategies for optimizing the code being read by a computer, and facilitating its understanding through
visual organization and comments for other coders.
Honman (2012) emphasizes the dehnite structural similarities
When writing code, a good programmer knows to indent a line in order to show a child
hierarchical connection to the line that precedes and follows it. Parenthetical statements indicate
that a function can be unpacked and extended, thus giving it more a more select purpose. In the
Dickinson poem, every other line is indented, so a sort of echo and response hierarchy is given
to the words. Italics are used for emphasis, a rough highlight as your eye passes them by, giving
them a special meaning, just like the parentheses in our code. (.) But deeper down the rabbit
hole we go. Read the Dickinson poem out loud. One of the nice things of well written poetry is
that it has a now. Everything just feels like it is in the right place. As you read through, your
words jump naturally from one line to the next. When we are coding, this should be our goal as
well. Each line connects to the one above it, and bridges it to the next. A good programmer can
read through a well crafted Loop and feel that same sense of kineticism. Poetic now is dinerent
from prose because it is not determined simply by grammatical structure, but by the way each
word naturally bounces to the next, unveiling something more essential through their
Code has the same enect; each function, each coding phrase infuses with the words around it to
create meaning. Each line, juxtaposed with the next, is able to do something that neither could
do on its own. But they must connect naturally, and now into one another. Sounds poetic, right?
Honman also develops his 'microscopic bits of art¯ concept, by comparing code to typography :
Just like typographers, programmers deal with indexical symbols that we piece together as
logically as we can. Like the letters of Bringhurst's prose, these microscopic bits of art have
meaning all on their own, be it a function, a conditional statement or even a HTML header tag.
But the beauty of these symbols comes when they are assembled together into a meaningful
structure. A process that sounds simple, but is in fact wonderfully complex.
He then emphasizes the power of inspiration that code can generate in potentially anyone's mind :
Coding standards exist for a reason, and if you follow them, you will hnd that you will not only
achieve a beautiful poetic now, but code won't even feel like code. Instead, it will be a sort of
opaque expression and inspire an implicit understanding even for someone who has never seen a
line of code in their life. The beauty of the code exceeds the restricted domain of coders and
developers, but can reach anyone who has no coding skills or notions.
He hnally states that design is all about solving problems, and that coding rests on the same process :
You will probably hear more than once in your life that design is all about solving problems.
Well it turns out that so is code. For each problem we may face, there are likely dozens of
possible solutions. So much so, that it can often be overwhelming. It's easy to rush into getting
started, and open up a dozen tabs with dinerent Google searches all of which suggest a dinerent
solution. But instead, embrace the poetic process. Think about the realm of possibilities that lie
before you, and choose the one that feels most natural. Before you begin, choose which door you
are drawn to. It will be much easier to walk through. Thus, for each problem an individual is
likely to face, there are likely dozens of possible solutions. This multiplicity in the solutions is
likely to be overwhelmingly if not well managed and dealt with the proper 'poetic¯ attitude. (.)
So now, when you go to sit down to write your own code, consider now, consider the
signihcance that lies between the lines. Work towards connecting microscopic bits of art to build
something that not only proposes a solution, but creates meaning in it's own right.
In a nutshell, the poetic process aims at simply, beautifully and emciently describing complex
'semantic systems¯ designed to trigger (once meaningfully interpreted) vast 'semantic helds¯ likely to
be freely explored and potentially hacked by 'good readers¯ (Anastasiou & Griva, 2009). The 'poetic
attitude¯, as part of the hacking philosophy, can thus strongly stimulate the individual's creative
intelligence, likely to favor his hacking practice, i.e., his search for creative and original solutions to a
specihc problem (Manach, 2012). This attitude can also favor the 'problematization¯ of the observed
'solution¯ (Honman, 2012; Lévy, 1995) and the actualization, via an 'unleashed¯ V - A dynamic, of a
brand new one.
The focus on the need to describe simplistically and emciently complex systems can be related to the
hybridization of knowledge's core characteristic, which resides in the vulgarization of complex
scientihc works in order to facilitate their meaningful reading/cognitive appropriation by non-scientists
and favor the co-construction of a rich meaning fed by this 'cross-fertilized¯ intelligence. The work on
vulgarization thus shares some strong similarities with the poetic process, for it aims at :
- Favoring the individuals' interest to the vulgarized knowledge : Requires an important work on
attractiveness (e.g., via the use of widely appreciated conventional signs);
- Favoring the understanding of complex concepts by potentially anyone : Requires the use of specihc
evidences, widely recognized and understood, likely to trigger meaningful interpretations;
- Favoring the co-construction of knowledge and collective creative process : Optimized with a 'good
reader¯ (used to engage cognitively with a text) possessing a vast and rich culture (favors the semantic
exploration process) and disinhibited in his reading process. This disinhibition is fundamental to
optimize the hacking practice and the enriching of the work, via the actualization of new possibilities
of interpretation and the creation of new ones).
Beauty, as inherent characteristic of poetry, favors the individuals' ability to be attracted
(attractiveness), interested (stimulates their curiosity, necessary for expressing creativity), surprised or
even amazed. These enects are likely to stimulate the individuals' cognitivo-perceptive system, by
favoring its attention on the element, its observation, analysis and potential will to make the initial
poem even more beautiful or adapted to his own subjectivity. The dynamic and virtualizing nature of
the poem can also stimulate his imagination and his consideration of potential original connections
likely to be actualized (core part of creative intelligence and hacking). It can thus favor the creation of
complex and original compositions whose combination can produce deep and rich meanings and
interpretations likely to renect, if expressed, the reader/author's personality.
However, the interpretative process can be innuenced or conditioned by the privatization/colonization
of the individual's mind which is likely to shape a rigid and 'depriving¯ process. In other words, it can
be weakened by a leashed objectal relation to the observed representamen
as well as the
internalization of cognitive restrictions such as 'mental DRMs or 'cognitive silos¯ weakening the
potentialities of connections between 'connicting¯ intellectual properties via the reduction of the
cultural diversity. The creative framework, i.e., a favorable context, is fundamental for the reading
process to be optimal.
#..%. Inference and strategic intelligence
Inference also plays a major role in the analytic process, as core part of the strategic intelligence
dehned by Besson and Possin (2001). More precisely, it plays a fundamental role in :
- The decisional process : Via the interpretation of weak signals to anticipate phenomena and take
emcient decisions in order to get prepared to them;
- The hght against disinformation : Via the detection of specihc evidences likely to favor the
development of an accurate mental model toward the observed deceptive representamen. This
detection is based on Besson and Possin's advices to recognize disinformation, and requires to be
optimal a good knowledge about the potential disinformers as well as a good experience in the analytic
- The prediction phase : Inference prediction process (Besson and Possin, 2001). The collective
intelligence can also be fundamental for the development of a rich and accurate understanding of a
complex representamen such as a hlm or a videogame.
The collective reading, as basis of the analytic process, is fundamental to enrich the inferential
process, via the potential integration of new interpretative possibilities from a collective intelligence,
which will be optimized if open and decentralized in order to beneht from a multi-cultural, i.e., richer
129 We will analyze this major issue later.
process. Paris, Wasik and Turner, 1991) add that in reading, especially in reading comprehension,
readers have been found to employ a wide range of strategies, while they are engaged in
comprehending text, since reading comprehension 'involves conscious and unconscious use of various
strategies, including problem solving strategies to build a model of meaning¯ (Johnston, 1983). We are
now going to analyze the reading strategies likely to be used to optimize the reading process.
#..+. Aeading strategies
According to Pereira-Laird and Deane (1997), strategy is conceived as a deliberate goal-directed
action, which can be either conscious, unconscious or automatic. More precisely, reading strategies
have been dehned as specihc, deliberate, goal-directed mental processes or behaviours, which control
and modify the reader's enorts to decode a text, understand words and construct the meaning of a text
(Garner, 1987; Amerbach, Pearson, & Paris, 2008). Reading strategies have been usually classihed
into three broad categories, depending on the level or type of thinking processing involved : cognitive,
metacognitive and social anective strategies (Chamot, 1987; O'Malley & Chamot, 1990). The goal-
directed action, as core part of the reading strategy shares some similarities with Franz and Mallot's
paradigm about navigation we will analyze further, as well as Sandri's analysis of serendipity and
abduction processes in order to optimize the hypertextual navigation and the problem-solving process.
The concepts of crystallized and nuid intelligence will also constitute an important part in the the
analysis of these strategies.
Anastasiou and Griva (2009) emphasize that cognitive strategies involve direct 'interaction¯ with the
text and contribute to facilitating comprehension, operate directly on oncoming information and
manipulating it in ways that enhance learning. Under the heading cognitive strategies can be classihed
the following ones : 'underlining', 'using titles', 'using dictionary', 'writing down', 'guessing from the
context', 'imagery', 'activating prior knowledge', 'summarizing', 'using linguistic clues', 'using text
markers', 'skipping the dimcult parts' and 'repeating words or phrases'. These dinerent strategies ht, as
we said, the concepts of manipulation as dehned by Aarseth (2007) and the psychological engagement
with the text in order to discover potentially dynamic 'states¯ (i.e., dehned/intended interpretative
possibilities) and develop a rich and accurate understanding of the text's 'design's model¯.
These dinerent cognitive strategies involve key-concepts we will analyze further, such as :
- The importance of a rich culture to favor the understanding (i.e., develop a mental model in
accordance to the design's one) as well as the exercise of freedom over the read text (stimulates the
V - A dynamic);
- The importance of a well developed and sustainable memory (Besson and Possin, 2001), regularly
enriched and exploited in order to enrich the reading process as well as stimulate the V - A dynamic
via the providing of pertinent questions about the read text. This virtuous cycle is thus likely to attract
new answers and enrich its analysis and interpretation, as well as the unexpected discoveries enriching
the reading process;
- The importance of the right to manipulate the text (whether if physical or digital support) to favor its
'cognitive appropriation¯. We will add the right to do it 'anonymously¯ in order to decrease the risks
of social innuences and self-censorship likely to leash/weaken or prevent the manipulation process;
The cognitive strategies can however be conditioned/restricted via techniques such as :
- The integration of DRMs in the text preventing its unrestricted and disinhibited manipulation and
enriching without restriction (i.e., denied 'right to read and write¯) and anonymously (Stallman, 1996,
Lessig, 2001; Ertzscheid, 2011);
- The internalization of 'mental DRMs¯ and 'cognitive silos¯ : Favoring the unconscious restriction of
the interpretative process;
- A strong branding strategy : Conditioning the reading process.
Several techniques are thus likely to be exploited by the author(s)/rights holder(s) in order to
orient/condition the reading process. As we have analyzed with dark patterns, specihc works can be
designed to attract and monopolize the readers' attention on specihc areas/evidences in order to favor
the overlooking of potentially compromising informations/evidences likely to compromise the work's
'design's model¯ if meaningfully interpreted. For example, the use of complex words standing for (if
correctly interpreted) compromising elements likely to threaten the potential innuence and
manipulation strategies integrated in the work's design. Strategies of 'mental defenses¯ can thus be
integrated in the 'arsenal¯ of the cognitive strategies likely to be deployed in the reading process.
Metacognitive strategies are higher order executive tactics that entail planning for learning,
monitoring, identifying and remediating causes of comprehension failure or evaluating the success of a
learning activity; that is, the strategies of '¯self planning¯, 'self-monitoring¯, 'self-regulating¯, 'self-
questioning¯ and 'self-renecting¯ (Pressley & Amerbach, 1995; O'Malley & Chamot, 1990).
Metacognitive strategies involve planning, monitoring, and evaluating that take place before, during,
and after any thinking act such as reading. In contrast, cognitive strategies refer to integrating new
material with prior knowledge. In other words, cognitive strategies/skills are necessary to perform a
task, while metacognitive strategies are necessary to understand how the task has been performed
(Garner, 1987; Schraw, 1998), as they involve both the awareness and the conscious control of one's
leaning. Demetrious uses the term hypercognition to refer to self-monitoring, self-representation, and
self-regulation processes, which are regarded as integral components of the human mind.
According to Snow, Burns, and Grimn (1998), skilled readers are good comprehenders. They diner
from unskilled readers in 'their use of general world knowledge to comprehend text literally as well as
to draw valid inferences from texts, in their comprehension of words, and in their use of
comprehension monitoring and repair strategies¯ (p. 62). Pressley and Amerbach (1995) pointed out
that skilled readers approach the reading task with some general tendencies. For example, they tend to
be aware of what they are reading; they seem to know why they are reading; and they have a set of
tentative plans or strategies for handling potential problems and for monitoring their comprehension of
textual information.
Unskilled readers (typically young developing readers and some inexperienced adolescents and adults),
on the other hand, are quite limited in their metacognitive knowledge about reading (Paris &
Winograd, 1990). They do relatively little monitoring of their own memory, comprehension, and other
cognitive tasks (Flavell, 1979; Markman, 1979) and tend to focus on reading as a decoding process
rather than as a meaning-getting process (Baker & Brown, 1984). In addition, they are less likely than
skilled readers to detect contradictions or resolve inconsistencies in understanding text.
Anastasiou and Griva (2009) conhrmed this analysis via an experience which demonstrated that good
readers generally use more frequently meaning-oriented reading, while poor readers adopt a word-
centered model of reading, try to process word meaning rather than trying to comprehend and retain
the meaning of the text. Thus, they report less frequently certain 'demanding' cognitive strategies, such
as guessing from the context, activating prior knowledge, using imagery, keeping meaning in mind, as
well as strategies based on linguistic features of the text.
A too much 'rigid¯ mental model, based on cognitive certainty and stability and a 'leashed virtual¯
pole of the relation to the observed representamen can favor the reader's alienation to its 'design's
model¯, via a perfect matching between the reader's model and his triggered interpretation (i.e.,
without any expression of his personality and subjectivity in it). Metacognitive strategies are thus
fundamental to truly optimize the reading process, for they can favor the individual's mental resistance
against potential innuence and manipulation strategies, via an awareness of his own potential
biases/naws conditioning his reading while processing it. These strategies can thus allow the reader to
develop a better awareness and understanding of his cognitive relation to the read representamen.
They can thus, for example, allow him to 'unlock¯ the individual's interpretation process, by 'setting
him free¯ from his initial alienation (e.g., via crystallized attitudes) to the representamen's 'rigid
reality¯, i.e., to its internally static nature/design's model. They are thus, especially if the reading
process is practiced collectively, to prevent or at least decrease the risk of a standardization of the
interpretations as well as a majority pressure toward potentially 'divergent¯ readers if the uniformed
interpretations are expressed publicly. Reading strategies can also be optimized by specihc
methodologies designed to stimulate the critical and renexive approach in the reading process, such as
the question - answer cycle emphasized by Besson and Possin (2001) we have analyzed. This
methodology can thus allow to strengthen not only the production of meaning from the read text, but
also 'around it¯, via the potential discovery of initially unexpected informations about its context or
from other representamens enriching it once connected. The connection between several dinerent
interpretations of the text, in order to potentially discover some similarities and connections likely to
enrich the reading process, can also be used as an interesting reading strategy to stimulate the creative
'on-piste¯ interpretation.
Reading strategies can, if well exploited, strongly enrich and strengthen the analytic process. They can
also be useful to optimize the creative and inventive intelligences (via an optimized V - A dynamic
and 'problem-solving") and can be enriched via the use of methodologies from the strategic
intelligence process. The development and recurrent exploitation of strategies involving both cognitive
and metacognitive awareness can help the individuals/groups to strengthen their understanding of their
interpretative process. In other words, reading strategies can favor the resistance against potential
'informational attacks¯, by developing a 'problematic¯ mental model not matching the observed text's
'reader's model¯. The doubt and questioning of specihc 'evidences¯ can thus help favor the detection
of potential strategies of disinformation (via repetition and other techniques dehned by Besson and
Possin, 2001), i.e., to 'short-circuit¯ them. A strategic and critical approach both toward the read
information (via necessary doubt and pertinent questioning) and the potential individual and/or
collective cognitive biased/naws likely to be exploited by a disinformer in order to orient/condition
their interpretation (i.e., psychic virtual reality) is thus necessary.
%. The na*igation process
%.. The cogniti*e na*igation (ithin the semantic space
As Lévy (1995) states, the reading process is about tearing, wrinkling, twisting and sewing the text in
order to open up a living environment, and the actualization of a space of meaning via its exploration
and mapping. This process thus requires an active cognitive engagement in the process, as our analysis
about reading strategies emphasized. He also describes the reader's cognitive travel from one edge of
the space of meaning to the other, by being helped by the system of addressing and pointers whose
author, publisher, typographer have marked.
Franz and Mallot (2000) dehne navigation as "the process of determining and maintaining a course or
trajectory to a goal location". It is also the term used for the specialized knowledge used by navigators
to perform navigation tasks. All navigational techniques involve locating the navigator's position
compared to known locations or patterns. For Rell Pros-Wellenhof (2007) it can refer in a broader
sense to any skill or study that involves the determination of position and direction. Some people thus
use measures of distance and absolute directional terms (north, south, east, and west) in order to
visualize the best pathway from point to point.
Tolman's (1948) postulated the existence of a cognitive map, internalized in the human mind which is
the analog to the physical lay-out of the environment, and argues that information impinging on the
brain is "worked over and elaborated....into a tentative cognitive like a map of the environment
indicating routes and paths and environmental relationships.¯ Dillon, et al. (1990) emphasize that
many theorists agree that the acquisition of navigational knowledge proceeds through several
developmental stages from the initial identihcation of landmarks in the environment to a fully formed
mental map. The identihcation of landmarks will thus refer in our analysis to the detection and
interpretation of the system of addressing marked by the dinerent individuals involved in the creation
of the representamen, as emphasized by Lévy. The reader thus has, to build and actualize his cognitive
map with its inherent 'semantic space¯, likely to be explored on a leashed or unleashed cognitive
approach, and 'skeleton framework¯ composed by his knowledge and experience about the
representamen and his identihcation of the textual evidences orienting his interpretation process. This
building and actualization can be optimized via the use of reading strategies and a strong cognitive
The individual's cognitive map shares some strong similarities with the mental model concept , dehned
by Norman (1990) as the idea that a user has of a system based on his interactions with it. As Norman
emphasizes, the individuals form mental models through experience, training, and instruction. Dix, et
al. (1993) state that mental models are often partial, unstable and subject to change. Mental models
are thus, like cognitive maps, developed and enriched by the reader's knowledge about the observed
representamen and his experience based on his interaction with it (as dehned by Lévy, 1995). Dillon,
et al. (1990) state that according to Tolman's cognitive map concept, we represent knowledge in terms
of highly salient visual landmarks in the environment such as buildings, statues, etc. Thus we
recognize our position in terms relative to these landmarks. (...) This knowledge provides us with the
skeletal framework on which we build our cognitive map.
The 'skeletal framework¯ of the cognitive map thus constitutes the core of the individual's mental
model developed about the observed representamen. It can be whether rich or poor, wide or narrow,
partitioned (with delimited and discriminated semantic areas) or global (potential interconnection of
semantic areas, from the text or from other works in order to enrich it). Schema can be dehned as
mental model of aspects of the world or of the self that is structured in such a way as to facilitate the
processes of cognition and perception
. We will interpret this analysis as emphasizing the individual's
categorization process developed consciously or not in order to facilitate the meaningful observation of
a representamen, in accordance to his limited cognitive resources. This can induce, in the case of the
actualization of a cognitive map, to phenomena such as a discrimination toward specihc elements in
order to preserve a 'meaningful¯ (i.e., certain and comfortable) interpretation. The observation and
interpretation of always the same perceived evidences can thus favor the unconscious overlooking of
other ones likely to trigger new thought-signs (via dinerent sign-vehicles than the ones already used in
the semiotic process) and enrich the interpretation. The practice of the creative and inventive
intelligences can however favor the hght against this potential risk for creativity.
The exploration and mapping (via the 'active¯ reading) of the actualized space of meaning thus
develops the individual's mental model, which is unstable and subject to change via the integration of
new informations/knowledges in his cognitive map. This characteristics emphasizes the instability of
his attitudes (cognitive dimension) about the observed representamen, and his potential change of
perspectives in his observation process as described by Tezuka and Tanaka (2013).
Lévy (1995) precises that we can disobey the instructions, take short cuts, produce forbidden folds,
build secret and clandestine networks and make other semantic geographies emerge. Lévy's analysis
thus emphasizes two possibilities of interpretation toward the observed representamen's 'design's
model¯ :
- Obedience to the omcial interpretative rules : Favoring the reader's leashed virtual pole of his
relation to the observed representamen and a possible, if too much conditioned interpretative process,
alienation to its omcial design;
- Disobedience : Via the exploration of new actualized paths fed by personal culture and original
connections between works,...Short-cuts and alternative semantic paths, outside the omcial track
dehned by the observed representamen's design's model (requires its accurate understanding in order
to be 'hacked¯).
The reader's goal (inspired by the 'goal-directed action¯ characteristic of the navigation process) is
thus for the reader to develop, via the emcient interpretation of the 'landmarks¯ (i.e., evidences), a
meaningful and rich interpretation/mental model matching or not the observed representamen's
design's model (whether static or dynamic). This goal thus depends on his will and project (as part of
his virtual pole of the objectal relation to the text. It can thus be, for example :
- To develop a rich and accurate mental model matching the representamen's design's model;
- To exercise creativity toward it : Via the disobedience to the interpreted omcial rules.
Disobedience is thus necessary to open up new paths likely to be explored and favor the enriching of
the interpretation via the actualization of new possibilities and a widening of the semantic space, via
the emergence of new semantic geographies/areas likely to be freely explored to actualize new
possibilities and enrich the interpretative process. The individual's relation to the text is likely to be
reframed via the V - A dynamic, discriminating (e.g., via 'cognitive silos¯ and discrimination between
knowledges/cultural references) or neutral (via open-mindedness and 'serendip attitude likely to favor
the discovery and the integration of new disruptive cognitions likely to favor the cognitive
restructuring and an innovation within the actualization of new interpretative possibilities within the
cognitive map).
As we said, the system of addressing marked by the author(s) and the other individuals involved in the
representamen's creation, aim at orienting the individual's perception (e.g., via innuence strategies)
and interpretation, in order the reader's mental model to match the representamen's design's one. The
strings of meaning (Eco, 1969), dehned in a static representamen, are thus likely to be whether
followed 'blindly¯ (i.e., without any personal engagement) or disobeyed to exercise freedom on the
interpretative process. The sewing of the text as well as the 'mashup¯ and 'disruption¯ of the observed
representamen (Kaunman, 2014; BNF, 2014) can favor the exercise of creativity and the
enriching/transformation of the cognitive map. We will presume that the richer the unexpected
connections between 'semantic areas/helds¯ (e.g., via connection between dinerent 'worlds of
knowledge¯ sharing the same lexical and/or semantic helds), the more original the interpretation of the
Tezuka and Tanaka (2013) analyze sightseeing, and emphasize that 'In sightseeing, tourists either
travel along a tour course or stroll around. Although tourists using a tour course will not miss popular
places of interest, they have less of a chance of hnding unexpected spots. In contrast, strolling tourists
have more chances to encounter unexpected spots or events.¯ According to them, sightseeing involves
both well-known and little-known places of interest. Tourists on a regular course can visit well-known
spots emciently, while unguided tourists can also check out little-known places. Based on this analysis,
we will emphasize that the author can orient, like with sightseeing, the observer's attention on specihc
evidences (as part of his work's design's model) via the use of specihc strategies. These strategies can,
for example, aim at avoiding the potential observation of disruptive elements (i.e., likely to induce a
cognitive uncertainty and a potential restructuring compromising the representamen's design's model).
The content's context (i.e., of the observed representamen's context) can enrich, according to Tezuka
and Tanaka (2013) the viewer's experience, by extending his interest and relating dinerent topics. This
analysis emphasizes the possibility the individuals have to reframe their relation to the observed world,
via the changing of perspectives optimized via a new engagement in their objectal relation. They can
thus take new directions (i.e., outside their usual paths) in order to explore new semantic routes. Their
'skeletal framework¯, fed by their knowledge and experience about the observed representamen, is
likely to be reframed in order to favor its permanent enriching. Tezuka and Tanaka also emphasize
that sightseeing tourists are able to change perspectives by checking maps, view, scenery or make
close observations of the place of interest. This analysis emphasizes the possibility for the individuals
to enrich their interpretation process, via :
- A reframing of the observed representamen : For example, via a new cognitive engagement and
manipulation process (led by another rule of behavior,...). This can stimulate the actualization of new
interpretative possibilities (i.e., via new paths and directions), of new semantic areas, via the
actualization of new connections and directions enriching the exploration of the limits of the
representamen's possibilities. This process can be favored by a disinhibited objectal relation to the
observed representamen and an unleashed V - A dynamic;
- The use of collective intelligence : Represented by the use of a map, i.e., of other individuals'
interpretation of the same observed representamen. Optimized if open and decentralized process.
The individual's permanent 'reframing¯ can thus be useful to unleash the navigation process and the
enriching of the cognitive map as well as the widening of the actualized semantic spaces.
Let's now consider navigation methods likely to be used by readers/observers. Navigation methods
have been dehned by Andreano and Carill (2009), who emphasized two basic methods :
- Allocentric navigation : Is benehcial primarily in large and/or unfamiliar environments. This
navigation strategy relies more on a mental, spatial map than visible cues, giving it an advantage in
unknown areas but a nexibility to be used in smaller environments as well;
- Egocentric navigation : Relies on more local landmarks and personal directions (left/right) to
navigate and visualize a pathway. This reliance on more local and well-known stimuli for hnding their
way makes it dimcult to apply in new locations, but is instead most enective in smaller, familiar
environments. More optimal for certain and stable environments and for resolution of problem task
These two methods are likely to characterize the readers/observers cognitive patterns used,
consciously or not, to navigate within their cognitive map.
Let's hrst consider the egocentric navigation. This method can be favored by the individual's following
of the interpreted omcial landmarks, for example to preserve his cognitive certainty and comfort in his
interpretative process. This 'omcial¯ and familiar interpretation, based on the representamen's omcial
interpretative rules, is likely to favor the individual's crystallization of the attitudes toward the
observed representamen, i.e., an alienation to its dehned reality weakening his ability to actualize new
possibilities. The egocentric cognitive navigation is thus likely to favor the cognitive certainty, stability
and comfort and weaken the risk of unexpected discoveries necessary for innovation (e.g., via the
discovery of unexpected paths/directions). It can thus weaken the chance of taking new paths and
directions likely to enrich the interpretation process as well as the cognitive maps.
The egocentric navigation can also favor the monotonic inferential relation to the observed
. The individual's will to not get personally engaged in his interpretative process can
be a reason of his adoption of an egocentric navigation, via a voluntary disempowerment toward the
observed representamen based on the 'blind¯ following of its interpreted omcial rules/design's model.
We will presume that the egocentric cognitive navigation, is based on inductive or deductive
inferences, increasing the individual's certainty in his interpretative process. However, this cognitive
certainty and comfort is also likely to strongly decrease his ability to welcome uncertainty (via the
detection of new unexpected evidences triggering new interpretative possibilities), i.e., innovation via
the abduction process and the actualization of new semantic areas/spaces.
A too much sticking/compliance or internalization of the observed representamen's interpretative rules
is thus likely to leash the individual's creative thought and his chance of cognitive restructuring, i.e., of
actualization of new semantic areas and interpretative possibilities. This familiar cognitive process can
also favor the unconscious overlooking of new unexpected evidences, or the reconsideration of the
already interpreted ones. In other words, it can leash/crystallize his virtual pole of this relation to the
observed representamen (with crystallized representations and expectations).
Let's now focus on the allocentric navigation. This cognitive pattern is likely to favor the individual's
'creative semantic navigation¯, via the disobedience to the omcial/mainly expressed rules of
interpretation and a personal engagement in the reading process. We will also remind that the V - A
dynamic is necessary to enrich the actualized space of meaning and the interpretation of the read text,
for likely to strengthen the individual's cognitive nexibility and optimize his chance of cognitive
restructuring and innovation in his interpretative process.
Allocentric navigation is thus optimal for the creative intelligence process via the the navigation
through unfamiliar, uncertain and potentially unexpected semantic environments and for creativity
nature of the tasks (decentralized structure). The exercise of freedom over the interpretative process,
via the exploration of unfamiliar environments increasing the chances of unexpected discoveries is
likely to enrich the interpretation process via the actualization of new or richer interpretative
possibilities. It can also decrease the risk of alienation to the observed representamen's reality and
stimulate the V - A dynamic, necessary for the enriching of the cognitive map, via the actualization of
'richer versions¯. The individual can thus focus, via this cognitive pattern, on the observed
representamens' meaning (i.e. skilled reading) instead of the representamens themselves (poor
reading). This approach favors the semantic connections, and stimulate creativity by increasing
freedom over the interpretative process. The development and enriching of the creative map can be
favored by the exploration spirit (Franceschi, 2013) as well as the 'poetic¯ and 'serendip¯ attitudes
131 We will analyze this concept later.
(Honman, 2012) and the culture of intelligence in order to favor the enriching of the cognitive map
(via the integration new informations, knowledge and answers likely to generate new answers). The
hacking philosophy and the exploration of observed representamens' limits of their possibilities, via
the disobedience to its omcial rules, can also strongly optimize it.
McNamara and Shelton emphasize that hnding novel routes through a familiar environment has been
thought to rely on survey knowledge-knowledge of the spatial layout of landmarks dehned in a
common reference system. The hnding of new 'semantic routes¯ in a familiar environment hts pretty
well the hacking philosophy, with its exploration of the limits of the possibilities and actualization of
new ones from a well-known observed representamen. Based on this analysis, we will consider in our
semiotic analysis the discovery (optimized by 'serendip attitude¯ and the abductive inference process)
of new interpretative possibilities (i.e., semantic routes and directions) from an observed familiar
representamen. This creative process thus requires a reconsideration, i.e., a virtualization of the
observed representamen via a reframing process, and the actualization of new interpretative
possibilities enriching the individual's cognitive map. From a semiotic point of view, it will thus
consist to discover new possibilities of meaningful semiotic relations from a well-known
representamen (i.e., with a rich interpretamen).
The actualization of new semantic paths (via unexpected discoveries, i.e., serendipity) likely to be
explored in order to open up new directions/semantic places requires the unleashed interpretation of
the observed familiar representamen and the making of new semantic connections in order to
integrate new temporary uncertainty and actualize new possibilities. The making of connections
between 'worlds of knowledge¯ and cultural domains is necessary to optimize the actualization of new
semantic areas opening up new interpretative possibilities and widening the global semantic space.
The temporary uncertainty (via the virtualization process and the problem-solving process to achieve a
meaningful semiotic relation) is likely to stimulate the creative thought and prevent the freezing of the
semiotic process.
The 'creative navigation¯, via the ability to connect several semantic helds necessary for serendipity
and innovation to happen, requires a 'cognitive interoperability¯ between them, i.e., open-mindedness
and cognitive nexibility. New meaningful connections can thus be actualized by the interpretation of
specihc evidences triggering semantic or linguistic connections between other known elements, likely
to produce original interpretations and open up new creative possibilities. For example, the reading by
an individual of a text about the rigid property of a physical element in case of shock can trigger in his
mind a connection with an individual's cognitive rigidity threatening its cognitive structure in case of
shock. In other words, the reader's focus on the global meaning triggers, thanks to his prior knowledge
and experience, an unexpected connection between two dinerent 'worlds of knowledge¯ which both
share the same lexical and semantic helds, and generates new semantic areas likely to be explored and
enrich his cognitive map. This phenomenon is similar to Besson and Possin's inventive intelligence
process based on the connection between dinerent worlds of knowledge in order to stimulate
%.#. Cinear and hyperte$tual na*igation
The linear and hypertextual readings/observations both involve dinerent cognitive processes. Tisseron
(1995) analyzes the two main kinds of intelligence :
- The crystallized (or sequential) : Codes our thoughts, which can be simultaneous, so they can situate
them in an order of succession. It applies, for example, to reading, writing and spoken language, and
plays a fundamental role in the capacity to build a narration, and to be able to perceive ourselves as the
actor of our story;
- The nuid (or simultaneous) : Allows to treat simultaneously several informations without the need to
establish an order or a hierarchy. The individual uses this kind of intelligence when he observes a
painting or a picture. His eye can thus focus at any time on a dinerent point without knowing what
part of the space has to be observed hrst.
Tisseron adds that language, writing and books were invented as a mean to objectivize and amplify his
abilities linked to his sequential intelligence. Pictures and digital worlds were invented as means to
explore and amplify his capacities linked to his nuid intelligence that language and books do not
consider. Considering this dehnition, we will presume that :
- The linear reading/observation favors the egocentric navigation, with the necessary following of the
individual's designed rigid structure, with omcial 'marked¯ trails/paths due to its linear structure. The
reader's freedom is limited (only present in his interpretative process and his navigation through his
actualized semantic space) for he has to follow the author's sequential order to truly make sense of the
text (i.e., develop an accurate interpretamen by determining the representamen's design's model).
- The hypertextual one favors the allocentric navigation, with the possible uncertainty and serendipity
favored by the 'serendip attitude¯ we will analyze further. The allocentric navigation involves the
structural, semantic and textual dimensions (e.g., via the navigation through parts of a text, through
textual evidences, or via the making of connections with prior knowledge/culture (according to our
analysis). As Serres states, knowledge was before divided in sects, but today hypertextual reading
allows to create original bridges. The hypertextual navigation thus allows the individual to exercise a
more important freedom in his reading process, via a personal choice concerning the read text's
structure. It can however be easily turned into an egocentric navigation, with a biased route knowledge
via phenomena such as hlter bubbles we will analyze further.
Tezuka and Tanaka (2013) state that with the advent of hypertext it has become widely accepted that
the departure from the so-called "linear" structure of paper increases the likelihood of readers or users
becoming lost. There is a striking consensus among many of the "experts" in the held that navigation
is the single greatest dimculty for users of hypertext. Some researchers like Conklin (1987) and
McAleese (1989) thus emphasize the possibility to "get lost in hyperspace¯. According to Hammond
and Allinson (1989), "Experience with using hypertext systems has revealed a number of problems for
users....First, users get lost...Second, users may hnd it dimcult to gain an overview of the material...
Third, even if users know specihc information is present they may have dimculty hnding it¯. Specihc
searching methodologies, as part of the strategic intelligence process, thus have to be necessarily
known and applied by the individuals, in order to favor their online navigation.
Elizabeth Daley, executive director of the University of Southern California's Annenberg Center for
Communication, emphasizes the structural change induced by the grammar from the digital world.
According to her, grammar is about 'the placement of objects, color, . . . rhythm, pacing, and
texture.¯ But as computers open up an interactive space where a story is 'played¯ as well as
experienced, that grammar changes. The simple control of narrative is lost, and so other techniques
are necessary.¯ Thus, author Michael Crichton, while having already learnt the narrative of science
hction., had to learn a totally new craft to design a computer game based on one of his works. He thus
had to learn a new grammar based on the use of nuid intelligence, via questions to consider such as
how to lead people through a game without feeling they have been led (Lessig, 2008).
Bavelier et al., (2012) emphasize that the digital culture, especially videogames, improves the
individuals' capacities of visual attention such as identihcation of targets, nexibility, stimulates the
attention and a capacity of probabilistic inference.
The benehces of the two cultures resulting of these two intelligences are thus complementary :
- The book stimulates the habits and automatisms that relief the thought, but especially the possibility
for anyone to become a narrator of the stories he 'experiences¯ (via the actualization of a semantic
space and its leashed or unleashed exploration). Reading books allows the individual to build the
narrative intelligence and to appropriate his own story;
- The digital culture stimulates interactivity, innovation and favors the capacity to face the
We will emphasize that technically open digital systems, like videogames, may have been designed to
solicit both the crystallized and the nuid intelligences, depending on its 'layer¯ :
- The content layer can have been designed to explore and amplify the individual's nuid intelligence,
via the player's immersion in a digital world;
- The code layer, which contains the game's intrinsic nature and structure, is similar in its structure
and nature to a poem (Honmann, 2012) and a musical partition (Mechner, 2014). Its open access thus
allows to stimulate its reader's crystallized intelligence.
+. Crystalli2ed and fuid intelligence in the in*enti*e intelligence process
These two intelligences, as well as their respective 'cultures¯ (Tisseron, 2012) are both involved in the
inventive intelligence process. We will distinguish, as part of the inventive intelligence :
- The creative one : For the generation of original ideas phase, in accordance to Nussbaum (2012) and
Besson & Uhl (2012);
- The strategic intelligence : For the development and protection of the idea phase according to Besson
& Possin (2001) and Besson & Uhl (2012).
+.. Fluid intelligence in the creati*e intelligence
As we emphasized, the creative intelligence process is about making unexpected connections between
ideas. It thus inherently requires the use of the nuid intelligence in order to make unexpected
connections between ideas/thoughts, and actualize new meaningful original ideas. As Tisseron
emphasized, the nuid intelligence favors the treatment of simultaneous informations, This hts pretty
well the search for interoperability between systems and 'worlds of knowledge¯ as well as the
'inventive jumps¯ process likely to be used to stimulate the creative thought. The simultaneous
treatment of potentially connicting elements (e.g., designed to discriminate each other via
incompatible structures) can thus allow to stimulate the virtualization - actualization dynamic and the
creative problem-solving process in order to actualize a meaningful connection/merger. We will
analyze it in detail further in this work. Moreover, as digital culture stimulates innovation, it will favor
the optimization of the creative process.
+.#. Crystalli2ed and fuid intelligence in the strategic intelligence
Thomas Ollivier (2010), specialist in strategic intelligence, emphasizes that the strategic intelligence
process is a mental gymnastic which requires creativity and a mental nexibility, both in the strategic
approach and in the use of softwares, as well as a power of deduction. Cognitive nexibility, as main
characteristic of the nuid intelligence as well as allocentric navigation and survey knowledge, are thus
necessary for an optimized strategic intelligence process.
Besson and Possin (2001) state that the intelligence culture consists to 'lose time beyond the horizon¯,
in order to 'live tomorrow today¯. It thus inherently requires to avoid the development of cognitive
certainty and comfort, likely to weaken the cognitive nexibility necessary for the permanent reframing
of the environment (via an 'enlightened¯ decisional process). They thus emphasize the importance of
open-mindedness and constant evolution within an uncertain environment. The main strategies we will
consider in this analysis will be :
- Of search : Via the mental development of an optimal trajectory within the cognitive map fed by a
rich knowledge about the used tool(s);
- Of innovation : Via the inventive intelligence process we have analyzed. a search strategy (visualize
the process, via a good knowledge of complex/elaborated requests and the functioning of the digital
tools used in the interrogation process.
The development and exploitation of the memory (as dehned by Besson and Possin, 2001) implies the
use of both the crystallized and nuid intelligences to produce a truly emcient result. As they state,
strategic intelligence is 'a global view of reality¯ and 'a quest in perpetual renewing and becoming,
whose vocation is to hll in space, past, present and future¯, which allows to adapt by understanding
and apprehending the environment. The intelligence culture thus favor the spatialized representations
and the allocentric navigation, for it requires a permanent exploration of the unknown and uncertain
(via the Q - A virtuous cycle enriching the memory).
Besson and Possin's dehnition of the memory as 'organized curiosity¯ also perfectly illustrates this
characteristic. Allocentric navigation and nuid intelligence are thus necessary to truly optimize the
analytic and decisional processes fed by a strategic "spatialized¯ global view and the consideration of a
potential inhnity of connections between informations likely to be actualized. It also requires the use
of a crystallized intelligence, for its construction and exploitation requires to navigate within an
'informational tree¯, designed to facilitate the construction of a meaningful understanding based on a
logical sequential semantic structure. Its interrogation and exploitation allows to create a narration
likely to be exploited. For example, it can allow to favor the determination of the causes and proved,
possible or potential consequences of specihc actions/events whose informations concerning them are
stored within the memory, and favors the analysis of the past and present and the anticipation of the
future. As they state, the emcient memory is limitless, and its alveolus constitute 'open questions¯
calling a potential inhnity of answers (i.e., informations 'attracted¯ by them). The memory's structure
is thus based on both a sequential and simultaneous informational environment/ecosystem composing
the infocenter. Based on Besson and Possin's analysis, we will dehne the memory's extension in two
parts, each one implying a specihc kind of intelligence in its development and exploitation :
- The sequential extension (hrst, second,...) : As 'tree¯ structure favoring its reading and exploitation,
and hlled or empty alveolus placed under a sequential logic and likely to attract new informations
forming a part of the next 'extension¯.
- The simultaneous extension, divided in two dimensions :
- Intra-memory : Filled or empty alveolus likely to be connected to other ones in order to favor
the discovery of potential new meaningful connections;
- Inter-memory : Via a networked interconnection of organizational memories, both internal
and external, central and peripheral. Requires to be optimal an interoperability and non discrimination
between them (neutral and universal network). This extension allows to create richer and more
complex infocenters.
The alveolus can thus be considered as potential 'connectors¯ favoring the actualization of new
meaningful connections between informations and memories in order to favor the development of a
rich and complex global informational system likely to be easily exploited. The 'organized curiosity¯
thus aims at creating unexpected connections between informations, in order to actualize richer
interpretations of the observed environment or representamen. As Besson and Possin state, the most
unexpected the connections, the richer their added value. The intellectual challenge will be to develop
bridges, links and inclusions to make several objects/signs compatible within a common mental
assembling (creative intelligence) and actual (inventive intelligence) while sticking to an ethical
framework (ethics and aesthetics).
The memory's structure can thus be qualihed, according to Besson and Possin, (2001), as 'meccano¯.
Its potential inhnity of extensions (both sequential and simultaneous) is likely to constitute a
networked global infocenter. The construction of the memory, via a logic 'tree¯ favoring the
navigation within it and its exploitation, also renects the need for order and hierarchy between
informations. However, the simultaneous extension of the memory requires to be designed with the
FUCK philosophy (as dehned by FAT, 2012) :
- Neutral : Interoperability between the networked memories (with no 'war of design¯, i.e., no
discrimination between them, with neutrality as core principle allowing to create rich and complex
aesthetic systems designed to be attractive (i.e., 'work of art¯). Natural phenomena such as retention
of information have to be prevented;
- Functional : With an ergonomic design favoring its exploitation and enriching, and inciting the
individuals to be a part of these processes. Ergonomy is a key dimension of the memory, for this
'organ¯ will have to favor the easy and emcient interrogation and navigation within. Optimized
navigation frameworks within digital informational systems have been developed. We will, for
example, emphasize the Search Metaphoric Framevork developed by Tezuka and Tanaka (2013) for
optimizing the navigation within digital libraries;
- Universal : The same potentiality of access and enriching has to be granted, and the development of
a 'global consciousness¯ favoring the individuals' self-categorization as actors of the same 'intelligent
narration¯. We will emphasize that the 'sectarianism¯ can not only concern the informations and
knowledges, but also their producers and providers. It is thus necessary to make the intelligence
process nuid via the development of a favorable culture of intelligence and a global thought, as we
emphasized in our evolved collective mind analysis.
The internet constitutes, as we said, a fundamental part of the strategic intelligence process, and more
specihcally of the acquisition of information (i.e., via its interrogation and exploitation) of this 'global
memory¯ and monitoring (i.e., surveillance of the actuality concerning a specihc element). It has
initially been designed as a 'bazaar-like¯ global memory, likely to be interrogated via emcient
methodologies (Besson & Possin, 2001) and optimizing the acquisition of information process.
Assange (2013) emphasizes the fact that the internet was initially designed to be a 'house aiming at
hosting all the knowledges of humanity¯, with current weak foundations (due to the privatization of
the technical infrastructure and code layers) threatening both its viability (via the creation of lures)
and sustainability (via the possibility of arbitrary censorship).
The memory of the strategic intelligence has to include, according to Besson and Possin, an 'Internet
Look-out¯ (as emphasized by Revelli, 1998) and has to be composed of three specihc prohles, which
emphasize the need for both crystallized and nuid intelligences :
- An expert in information systems : Has to be able to develop the technical infrastructure and to solve
the technical problems of connection to the internet, the setting of the programs, the security issues,
- A cybersearcher : Has to be able to emciently crawl and interrogate both the 'visible¯ and the
'invisible¯ web (i.e., composed of the hardly or not indexed webpages);
- An analyst who specializes in the treatment of information : Has to be able to index, structure,
format the data set, amalgamate with other sources and "build" them by giving them meaning in order
to produce 'elaborated¯ information, then intelligence.
Ollivier (2010) emphasizes the importance of narration in the strategic intelligence process. He thus
proposes a particular methodology to optimize the monitoring process, and more specihcally the
dinusion of the collected informations to the individuals in charge of the decisional process within an
organization. It is thus fundamental to 'build and tell a story¯ based on the collected networked
informations and the specihc interpretations from their analysis in order to favor its cognitive
appropriation by the decision makers. The decision makers have to be the main 'actors¯ of these
elaborated stories, for their role will be to take enlightened decisions in order to face anticipated
threats or opportunities in order to provoke the 'most desired future¯. It is thus necessary to imagine
credible scenari of events/consequences likely to happen in the future based on this intelligence work.
These anticipated future evolutions will have to be accompanied with concrete propositions, in order
to facilitate the integration of the monitoring and prediction results (via strategic recommendations) by
the individuals involved in the decisional process. This narrative process thus aims at favoring the
decision makers' cognitive appropriation of a complex informational construction as well as favoring
their acceptance of potentially compromising/disruptive informations and interpretations likely to
threaten their cognitive certainty. The narration process thus has to not only emphasize the several
detected threats to face (via weak signals,...) but also propose possible solutions to turn them into
opportunities. The scenari have to contain dehned possibilities of action as well as their anticipated
consequences. The decisional process thus have to be fed by the development of a rich and credible
narration based on the validated informations from the memory and the prediction based on the past
and present informations via the construction of several possibilities of scenari. The permanent
actualization of new narrations based on a regularly updated analytic process is necessary to survive in
an ever-changing environment (via adaptation through innovation and enlightened decisions).
The prediction phase, and more globally the innovation process based on the strategic intelligence,
thus involves both the use of the crystallized and nuid intelligences via a subtle combination of
allocentric navigation with spatial representations and both networked and narrative informational
constructions to understand and apprehend perceived and interpreted rich and complex environments.
The innovation process, at the core of the creative and inventive intelligences, can however be
threatened/weakened by several traps based on a too much crystallized intelligence and egocentric
navigation. These traps can distort perceptual, renective and analytical capacities and thus impair the
functioning of the innovation process within the organization. Among the main traps, we can
emphasize :
- The abscons trap : Psychological trap created in the mind of an individual when he is engaged in a
series of costly acts. If these actions do not produce the expected and hoped results, it will be dimcult
for him to give up and question his commitment, for doing so may compromise his important
investment conceded to achieve his desired goal;
- The noor lamp syndrome : The individual is convinced that the solution lies in its immediate
environment and can not imagine other possibilities;
- The frog syndrome : The individual focuses so much on a particular point that he forgets the
reasons why, and thus lacks his main objective;
- The hxing on detail :The individual responds at all costs to deal with an emergency while the issue
is elsewhere, and that his decision will be counter-productive;
- The night forward :The individual builds the future from a past projection, referring to already
lived situations where parades were benehcial.
Jean-Luc Hannequin (2010), specialist in strategies of economic intelligence and innovation,
emphasizes several factors that may anect an organization's decisional rationality :
- The acceptable : It is sometimes easier to reason from socially acceptable elements rather than
adopting reasoning from factual ones;
- The pressure : High stress situations lead to stop on details, to favor elements of forms or of
- The shortcut : The individual thinks he goes to the essential most often due to lack of time,
motivation or sumcient resources (knowledge and skills).
The leader may also borrow inadvertently "false paths" that can be very damaging to the group if not
avoided. These can be :
- The mirror driving : Building the future from a projection of the past, by referring to situations
already lived for which countermeasures have been benehcial;
- The risk of endogamy : Focusing the attention on competitors, innovating by imitation, following the
fad, looking for consensus;
- The mirage of the trend : The individual analyses an already obsolete information;
- The myth of the champion : The charisma of a personality becomes the norm, a standard, a model of
The individuals can thus adopt familiar reasoning based on certain cognitive patterns such as the
egocentric cognitive navigation, with an application of "ordinary" solutions, or make decisions in
response to a situation rather than from a comprehensive analysis of the environment and context. The
individuals involved in the strategic intelligence process thus have to be attentive and "pro-active" in
this process, via the permanent proposal of new ideas and solutions as well as informations and
questions likely to improve the analytic and decisional process via the enriching of the memory (e.g.,
132 Similar to the groupal thought phenomena (Moscovici, 1960) we have analyzed earlier.
via the hlling of emphasized 'areas of ignorance¯
or raising new issues generating new informational
and cognitive needs for the group).
We will also emphasize, as major threats, the 'mental DRMs¯ (e.g., via an overlooking of certain
infocenters whose access and exploitation is falsely interpreted as 'illegal¯) and 'cognitive silos¯ (e.g.,
with a too much focus on the central memory and a neglection of other peripheral ones). We will
analyze these two phenomena later. We will also emphasize that the 'sectarianism¯ can not only
concern the informations and knowledges, but also their producers and providers (via phenomena such
as retention likely to weaken the intelligence process. It is thus necessary to make the intelligence
process nuid via the development of a favorable culture of intelligence and a global thought, as we
emphasized in our evolved collective mind analysis.
The strategic intelligence process thus aims at decreasing the risk of potential enclosures in familiar
and comfortable environments, via the analysis of a clear trajectory and the anticipation of the future
on a 'particle-like¯ (i.e., certain and stable) basis. The main risk is induced by a too much exploitation
of the crystallized intelligence and egocentric navigation based on route knowledge in the analytic and
decisional processes, likely to strongly weaken the capacity of innovation and adaptation. Cognitive
certainty, with familiar cognitive patterns/trajectories (i.e., egocentric navigation) and obsession on the
past can thus be really prejudicial for an organization. The adoption of new cognitive patterns and the
giving up of old 'obsolete¯ ones (i.e., not adapted to the new conhgurations anymore) is thus
necessary. Rigid cognitive patterns are also likely to freeze the semiotic process as well as the
individual's creative thought and nuid intelligence necessary to innovate and adapt, and induce a
crystallization of attitudes weakening the chance of cognitive restructuring, i.e., of change of
perspectives and innovation. An intelligence process based on a too much cognitive certitude and a
deductive inferential process is thus likely to prevent the risk of abduction and of creativity, via the
formulation of a creative hypothesis (Sandri, 2013). The use of digital systems, and especially the
Web, requires as we said the use of emcient methodologies and strategies to optimize the acquisition
of informations. However, it is also fundamental to integrate in this process a methodology based on
serendipity and the abductive inferential process in order to favor the chance of unexpected
discoveries, i.e., of creativity within it. We will analyze how to optimize this process later.
1. The right to read and (rite anonymously
1.. Aead0only ?S read0(rite cultures
Lessig, in Free Culture (2008) outlines two distinct cultures :
- The read - only culture : It is the culture the individuals consume more or less passively.¯ The
information or product is provided by the content industry, that possesses an authority on that
particular product/information. According to him, it is the world of media from the twentieth century;
- The read - write : Digital technologies do not possess the analog ones' inherent constraints. They
133 Unknown information and ignored" (Hayek).
allow the individuals to copy, share, modify and create content easily and quickly (Stallman, 2012). He
thus adds that 'The twenty-hrst century could be dinerent. This is the crucial point : It could be both
read and write. Or at least reading and better understanding the craft of writing. Or best, reading and
understanding the tools that enable the writing to lead or mislead. The aim of any literacy, and this
literacy in particular, is to "empower people to choose the appropriate language for what they need to
create or express." It is to enable students "to communicate in the language of the twenty-hrst
century.¯ As opposed to the read-only culture, the read-write one has a reciprocal relationship
between the producer and the consumer. Lessig considers that digital technologies, such as blogs,
provide the tools for reviving read - write culture and democratizing production.
The read -write culture implies the necessity for individuals to develop a true literacy toward the
technologies they use, in order to get empowered and exercise freedom over them, i.e., prevent a
potential abusive control by 'literate¯ entities. According to Lessig, 'The aim of any literacy is to
'empower people to choose the appropriate language for what they need to create or express.¯ It is to
enable individuals 'to communicate in the language of the twenty-hrst century.¯ Daley and Stephanie
Barish, director of the Institute for Multimedia Literacy at the Annenberg Center, illustrate this
dehnition by describing one project they ran in a high school. They gave students an opportunity to use
hlm to express meaning about gun violence a topic they were familiar with. They thus used a
combination of images, sound and text : The project "gave them a tool and empowered them to be
able to both understand it and talk about it," (.) "If you had said to these students, 'you have to do it
in text,' they would've just thrown their hands up and gone and done something else.¯ According to
Lessig, that tool succeeded in creating expression-far more successfully and powerfully than could
have been created using only text. Because expressing themselves in text is not something these
students can do well. Yet neither is text a form in which these ideas can be expressed well. The power
of this message depended upon its connection to this form of expression.
Daley (2002) emphasizes the importance of teaching the construction of meaning in Education :
Education is about giving students a way of 'constructing meaning.¯ To say that means just
writing is like saying teaching writing is only about teaching kids how to spell. Text is one part
-and increasingly, not the most powerful part-of constructing meaning. As Daley explained
in the most moving part of our interview, What you want is to give these students ways of
constructing meaning. If all you give them is text, they're not going to do it. Because they can't.
You know, you've got Johnny who can look at a video, he can play a video game, he can do
gramti all over your walls, he can take your car apart, and he can do all sorts of other things. He
just can't read your text. So Johnny comes to school and you say, 'Johnny, you're illiterate.
Nothing you can do matters.¯ Well, Johnny then has two choices: He can dismiss you one can
dismiss himself. If his ego is healthy at all, he's going to dismiss you. But instead, if you say,
'Well, with all these things that you can do, let's talk about this issue. Play for me music that
you think renects that, or show me images that you think renect that, or draw for me something
that renects that.¯ Not by giving a kid a video camera and . . . saying, 'Let's go have fun with the
video camera and make a little movie.¯ But instead, really help you take these elements that you
understand, that are your language, and construct meaning about the topic. That empowers
enormously. And then what happens, of course, is eventually, as it has happened in all these
classes, they bump up against the fact, 'I need to explain this and I really need to write
Media literacy, as Dave Yanofsky states, is the ability to understand, analyze, and deconstruct media
images. Its aim is to make individuals literate about the way media works, the way it's constructed, the
way it's delivered, and the way people access it. According to Daley, 'Probably the most important
digital divide is not access to a box. It's the ability to be empowered with the language that that box
works in. Otherwise only a very few people can write with this language, and all the rest of us are
reduced to being read-only¯. Literacy is thus fundamental for the hacking philosophy, in order to
exercise true freedom (i.e., creativity) over observed and meaningfully interpreted representamens.
According to Zimmermann (2014), our expression is nowadays directly bound to the Internet. Bayart
(2010) emphasizes that while books taught people how to read, the internet taught people how to
write. He thus emphasizes what he calls the 'evolution of the internaut¯, from the 'kikoolol¯ to
'commentator¯, to 'author¯ and hnally 'animator¯. His analysis describes the natural evolution of an
internaut, who at hrst transposes the 'read-only¯ culture from the physical to the digital world, but
then naturally adopts a 'read - write" as he gets more and more engaged and conhdent in the
networked communitarian culture. Creativity in the digital world is thus inherently expressed via the
writing process, whether of code or content. Digital technologies have, according to Lessig (2008) and
Stallman (2012), made the creative process accessible to anyone, while the net universality grants, as
we said, the same potentiality of access and participation for anyone. In other words, anyone is
granted the same potentiality of reading and writing to enrich the network. We will focus here only on
the code and content layers, as our analysis focuses on the creative process within the digital world.
As media literacy is necessary to understand and develop a cognitive resistance against potential
innuences and manipulations from media, digital literacy constitutes a core need in our digital age. It
has thus now become fundamental to learn to read the code layer, in order to better apprehend the
digital world and identify its potential threats such as tracking and enclosure, i.e., control via private
entities. Digital literacy is also necessary to truly exercise freedom within the cyberspace.
Shneiderman (1999) complete this 'techno-literacy¯paradigm by stating : "It's not enough to teach
students to surJ the 'Net, we must teach them to make va·es." The Creative Commons Foundation
(2014) also defends this right to read and write, favored by permissive legal licences, by stating that
'read-only is not enough.¯
The read -write culture, with digital literacy, is at the core of the open and decentralized collective
intelligence phenomena the Free philosophy rests upon. The FSF emphasizes several motivations for
individuals to write code and improve Free softwares (i.e., digital anti-rivalrous common goods) and
be a part of the creative process. Here are some in relation to our analysis :
- Wanting a better program to use : People often work on improvements in programs they use, in
order to make them more convenient;
- Education : If you write free software, it is often an opportunity to dramatically improve both your
technical and social skills; if you are a teacher, encouraging your students to take part in an existing
free software project or organizing them into a free software project may provide an excellent
opportunity for them;
- Professional reputation : If you write a successful, useful free program, that will sumce to show you
are a good programmer;
- To be admired : If you write a successful, useful free program, the users will admire you. That feels
very good;
- Gratitude : If you have used the community's free programs for years, and it has been important to
your work, you feel grateful and indebted to their developers. When you write a program that could be
useful to many people, that is your chance to pay it forward;
- Fun : For some people, often the best programmers, writing software is the greatest fun, especially
when there is no boss to tell you what to do. Nearly all free software developers share this motive.
According to Lessig (2006), the open architecture of the Internet lets people who don't have power
design great innovations
. However, Lessig emphasizes that copyright laws restricting creativity and
inventiveness has bloomed as the Internet network developed and whose access got democratized
worldwide. He thus states (2008) that "What before was both impossible and illegal is now just
illegal". He thus emphasizes that 'Now the default is control. Copyright presumptively regulates
everything, and the law supports this control over the use of culture.¯ He also emphasizes the power of
control restrictive technological features such as DRMs can oner rights holder(s) toward the
individuals : 'Technology will increasingly make it simple for content owners to control how and when
you get access to their material, and how you use it.¯ Stallman (2012) conhrms Lessig's analysis by
stating that copyright and depriving licenses induce an unjust power over the individuals, who are
technically and legally controlled by the technologies they use, and are ignorant about what it really
does. They are thus at the total mercy of the copyrights owners, who can do almost anything they want
on the objects, such as controlling the users' experience with it via monitoring tasks (e.g., collect of
personal data in accordance to specihc business models based on the commercial exploitation of
private data). Depriving legal licenses can also oner a perceived security and commodity, for the
individuals may know that the objects they use can easily be replaced thanks to its guarantee.
However, this guarantee only applies if the individuals do not break the 'all-rights-reserved¯ terms of
the depriving license. In other words, the users of the object have no control over it and can easily be
enslaved within a totally closed and depriving centralized ecosystem where they do not own the
objects they purchase/consume, and are not granted any freedom to exercise control or power over
Intellectual property laws will support this read - only internet. Indeed, copyright in the digital world
gives content owners more legal control over the use of their content than in the physical world. In the
physical world, there are plenty of uses of creative work that are beyond the reach of copyright
because these uses do not produce a copy - for example, reading a book. But in the digital world, as
every use of creative work technically produces a copy, every use, in principle, requires the permission
of the content owner. And thus, as technology better controls how content gets used, the law will back
that control up.
Stallman (1980) and Bayart (2007) analyze the change of paradigm toward the Internet, from its
inception (anarchic open and decentralized system with no security measure) to nowadays
(centralizing infrastructure, with mergers and synergies of big corporations controlling its access and
exercising a more and more increasing control over the individuals' digital life via their enclosure on
silos). Lessig emphasizes the fact that the Internet can enable both read -only and read-write culture,
depending on its intrinsic structure, but that more and more restrictive and depriving intellectual
property law support a 'read- only internet¯. Bayart completes his analysis by qualifying the current
tendency of centralization and enclosure of the network as 'Minitel 2.0¯.
This tendency to
centralization is, paradoxically, based on an illusion of freedom within it. Thomas Fourmeux (2014),
librarian and member of the collective SavoirsCom1 (engaged in the promotion and development of
knowledge as common good) thus states that 'The cosmetic opening in closed systems based on the
freemium model (Deezer, Spotify) infringes the 'real¯ free¯.
La Quadrature du Net (2013) analyzes the 'private copyright police¯, aka 'robocopyright¯ already
exercising censorship and regulation of the contents online. ¯This system leads to the establishment of
a private copyright police, acting outside the control of the judiciary and gradually drifting towards a
system of blind censorship. Possibility of counter-notihcation has been provided through a call, but
also the heaviness of this procedure to the ordinary citizens, the impartiality of this device is
questionable, since some benehciaries as Universal obtained privileges allowing them to obtain
withdrawals as they wish.¯
The more and more denied read - write culture, optimized via the 'law is code¯ paradigm and the
'robocopyright¯ within the cyberspace, also threatens the online contents value. Ferguson (2011) thus
states that "The hard truth is that most creations are worthless immediately. Most books, hlms,
albums, computer applications, or whatever else are met with not just indinerence but disuse.¯ A
work's intrinsic value thus rests on its observation and interpretation, both via its cognitive treatment
(as we will see in a future chapter, the representamen's meaning is made via its observation) and
written interpretation, for example via the creation of remixes and mashups, i.e., its 'disruption¯
according to BNF (2014). However, strong and threatening copyright policies can also weaken the
copyrighted works' sustainability. As Gwenn Seemel (2013), artist and copyright activist emphasizes,
more and more artists decide to turn away from copyrighted works and go hnd other sources of
inspiration, for fear of legal sanction from their rights holder(s). This issue thus induces a loss of the
works' intrinsic value and 'meaning¯, for as we said, the observers are the ones who, through
observation and interpretation, create and enrich them. This disruption of the culture is thus, for
Kaunman (2014), necessary to make it live and ensure its sustainability, for example via the creation
of new original works likely to enrich the cultural context (Seemel, 2013) and stimulate creativity. The
disruption of the observed representamens' design's model is also necessary to enrich its reality, via
the actualization of new possibilities or the creation of brand new ones based on them. We will thus
assume that the more subjectively/creatively observed and interpreted the representamen, the richer its
intrinsic meaning and value.
Stallman, Lessig, Maurel and other copyright activists all militate for a strong reform of copyright law,
in order to give back power to the public toward copyrighted contents. A reform of copyright thus has
to allow these contents' lifestime to be extended, via their collective appropriation of the work in order
to ensure its viability. The Budapest Open Access Initiative thus defends an open access to digital
: 'By 'open access¯ (.) we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any
users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl
them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without
hnancial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet
itself. (.) Open Access gives readers extraordinary power to hnd and make use of relevant literature,
and that it gives authors and their works vast and measurable new visibility, readership and impact.¯
As Lessig (2008) emphasizes, 'Less control produces more creativity¯. Read - write culture, and more
globally creativity and innovation, thus inherently require to be optimal an open, decentralized and
universal networked infrastructure, as well as a true digital literacy, necessary for the individuals to
exercise freedom within the cyberspace. Free contents and codes are also, as we said, necessary to
optimize the individuals' legal expression online, for the privatization of these layers is likely to
threaten both the viability and the sustainability of new creations considered, potentially considered as
'illegal¯ and censored for copyright infringement.
1.#. The right to read anonymously
Stallman, in his 1997 short-story 1he right to read, emphasized a major issue represented by the
DRMs and the tracking technologies integrated in closed/depriving programs' source code. These
features are designed to restrict and condition the individuals' experience with their closed/depriving
digital systems. They have, nowadays, become usual in technological objects'' design. Thus, according
to the Mozilla Foundation (2014), 93% of the top 1,000 websites include third-party cookies that
track the individuals moves online.
The generalization of surveillance by technologies is likely to strongly condition the
observation/reading process, not only from a technical point of view (e.g., via the 'self-destroying¯ of
the observed representamen after a specihc number of times), but also from a cognitive one, via the
generation of social innuences. As Ertzscheid (2013) emphasized in his dehnition of the DRMs, these
features can constitute the individual's acceptation of a right of inspection from the machine toward
his activity within the digital world. Stallman (2012) adds that DRMs can allow a computer to
systematically disobey its owner. We can thus qualify this relation as a compliance (whether conscious
or not) from the reader toward the observed representamern's abusive control over him.
Moreover, DRMs inherently transform, according to the FSF (2010), viable digital goods into
damaged ones. The reading of DRMized representamens is thus both conditioned and damaged,
preventing the individuals to beneht from a fully complete experience with their observed DRMIzed
representamen. This can induce serious issues for the reading process, such as the strategic alteration
of a text by its right holder(s) in order to prevent its copying and illegal sharing. For example, the
SiDiM DRM is programmed to operate subtle modihcations on proprietary texts by altering words,
punctuation and other text elements so that every reader having legally purchased a copy receives a
unique version. This DRM is dehned in a Wired article
German researchers have created a new DRM feature that changes the text and punctuation of
an e-book ever so slightly. Called SiDiM, which Google translates to 'secure documents by
individual marking,¯ the changes are unique to each e-book sold. These alterations serve as a
digital watermark that can be used to track books that have had any other DRM layers stripped
out of them before being shared online. The researchers are hoping the new DRM feature will
curb digital piracy by simply making consumers paranoid that they'll be caught if they share an
e-book illicitly.
As each content is designed by the rights holder(s) to be unique, via the integration of distinctive
'watermarks¯, the observation and interpretation of the author's original version (which has been
voluntarily altered to prevent its piracy) gets more dimcult in closed and depriving
We will consider the dinerent elements composing a reading ecosystem, as the operating system
running the programs and the web browser, necessary to read the online pages. Here are thus three
dinerent ecosystems, with specihc characteristics concerning the reading process within the digital
online world :
- Apple ecosystem : Totally closed and depriving ecosystem. All rights reserved (the individual does
not have any right except the one to use it under strict conditions). The disobedience to these rules can
induce legal sanctions;
- Google ecosystem : Partially closed. Can be analyzed and modihed (Android's source-code is
available and likely to be legally modihed and its logo is under a permissive Creative Commons
license). However, anonymity is hard to reach via the presence of tracking features and the company's
business model based on the 'data as value¯ paradigm;
- Firefox ecosystem : Free ecosystem (total transparency, four fundamental freedoms inducing the
right to read and write anonymously on an entirely personalized ecosystem where he can exercise a
full individual and collective control over it). This initial Free nature is however getting compromised
via the introduction of DRMs in the program's source-code.
Let's thus consider, based on this new conhguration, two individuals having purchased the same book
on two dinerent environments : the hrst one bought it on a physical book shop and the second one on a
digital silo. In the hrst case, the individual owns his book, possesses the exact version of the author,
and is free to both read, write and share without any restriction. The second one, however, does not
own the book : he purchased a 'reading license¯ of a DRMized digital hle designed to be read only by
him. To ensure that the reader does not violate the copyright infringement detained by the rights
holders, the DRM modihes the book's content, so he will be immediately identihed if the book gets
'pirated¯. These two individuals, however having purchased the exact same book, thus do not read the
same content and are granted radically dinerent degrees of freedom over it. It is thus likely to assume
that they might develop a totally dinerent interpretation based on this dinerence of experience and
relation to it, coupled with their dinerent reading process (e.g., linear VS hypertextual navigation).
The individual's internalization of the depriving copyright policies (with identihcation,
tracking/monitoring, renter status toward the observed hle, strict reading conditions,...) is also likely to
strongly innuence the reading process. Basic and fundamental values such as anonymous reading,
ownership of the book allowing to write on it and share it without restriction, are thus likely to become
impossible via the generalization of DRMized digital reading.
Let's now consider a hctional example in order to clearly illustrate the privacy issue in the reading
process. Winston, the main character of Orwell's 1984, is in possession of Goldstein's book (whose
reading is considered by the Party as illegal and likely to induce a strong sanction) and wants to read it
in order to learn more about the Party and the totalitarian society he lives in. Le's consider that this
book is a digital hle, which requires to be read a personal connection to a digital silo, under an omcial
identity (e.g.., via a personal code). Winston thus knows that reading it on his technological device is
purely suicidal, for the Party will be warned of his reading process as soon as he opens the DRMized
hle. The too much constraining reading ecosystem/context is thus likely to decide him to not read the
book in order to avoid the proved risk of being 'betrayed¯ by its technological device and arrested.
DRMs thus constitute a major threat for the reading process, by compromising both the observed
representamen's viability and sustainability. We will thus presume that these new technologies change
the reading process, for each reader of the same book will not read the same text (interpretamen),
whereas the same 'source-object¯ (the book) was initially bought. They thus may be likely to develop
a dinerent interpretamen, while all sharing the same interpretant. The DRMs are also designed to
prevent, in certain cases, the sharing of the hle, via its binding to a personal silo whose access requires
a personal code. DRMized hles are thus designed to prevent their collective, open and decentralized
reading, e.g., the development of an optimal collective intelligence around the same book. The right to
privacy (as core part of the cypherpunk philosophy) is thus fundamental to weaken these innuences
likely to condition/leash the individual's reading and observation processes, and favor fundamental
practices for the development of a rich interpretamen such as a disinhibited manipulation process and
hypertextual navigation. Eich (2013) emphasizes that the use of Free and encryption technologies is
thus necessary to 'disrupt the silos¯, so that 'silos do not know you anymore.¯
The Ghostery plug-in is an emcient mean to develop a more anonymous/private reading process within
the cyberspace. According to the company developing this web browser extension, online privacy can
only be achieved and enjoyed through the acquisition of knowledge about the trackers and their
respective owners (composing the 'invisible face of the net¯) and control over them (both at the
individual and collective scale, on an open and decentralized way in order to beneht from a richer
collective intelligence with an accurate perception and an emcient channeling of trackers' potential
abusive power over the users. It thus incites the individuals to disobey the observed representamen's
design's model, by overlooking the directly observable omcial interface (content layer) to 'see through
it¯ and focus on its source-code and acquire accurate informations about its composition concerning
tracking technologies. It also allows the individuals to exercise a control over it by choosing or not to
deactivate the undesired 'malicious features¯. In other words, it allows to disrupt the observed
deceptive by design representamen, and adapt it to specihc needs such as a desire for a private reading
online. This plug-in also allows to acquire information and knowledge about trackers likely to threaten
online privacy, exercise an abusive control over the users by observing their daily online activity,
innuencing/conditioning his online reading (via advertising) and transform them into 'commercial
products¯ (via the 'data as value¯ business). In other words, it allows an open and decentralized
community to exercise both individual and collective control over the tracking features, via their
listing and enriching of its database and the production of information and knowledge about them
(e.g., how to deactivate them,...) in order to counter-innuence them.
The Ghostery functioning thus hts the hacking philosophy, for it allows the individuals to acquire
knowledge about deceptive representamens, via the observation of initially 'hidden¯ features designed
to exercise a control over them, i.e., to disobey the observed representamen's omcial rules and
building something new with it, via its personalization based on the deactivation of specihc or all the
trackers integrated in its source-code. It also hts Stallman's paradigm emphasizing the 'war¯ between
the public trying to exercise power and control other the technologies they use and these technologies'
true owners (technical and legal dimensions). These kind of technologies also emphasize the necessity
for the individuals to have control over their informational environment. Specihc Free plug-ins such as
IP Flood, Privacy Badger (developed by the EFF) or HTTPS Everywhere can allow to customize and
personalize the reading digital online environment in order to optimize the reading process, for
example via the removal of disruptive elements sch as advertisement, with the use of extensions such
as AdBlock. However, the trusted reading device (e.g., the Firefox Free software) can be subverted,
via the installation of closed/depriving extensions to personalize the reading process. Other tools like
VPNs, proxies or ad blockers can be used to 'disrupt¯ digital silos and bypass the 'hlter bubble¯
generated by closed/depriving programs.
1.%. The augmented reading
Augmented reality technologies can be used to develop a richer reading/observation process. Wendy
Mackay (2014), Director of Research at INRIA who specializes in the human-machine interaction,
states that augmented reality technologies can be useful for certain complex situations where there are
many informations to consider in the real world, such as students on a medical simulations who have
to make diagnosis. They can thus help simplify the observation of the environment by making
priorities and give an emcient way to navigate in a complex real world. AR technologies can optimize
the sequential or simultaneous observation of key-evidences, and favor an emcient interpretation of
the environment or of a specihc representamen. They can favor the development of a better
observation and interpretation of a complex environment/representamen's, and favor its apprehension
by making it whether more simple or richer.
AR technologies can be provided by technological devices such as smartphones, smartglasses or
smartwatches. We will once again emphasize the importance of the technical and legal dimensions in
this process, especially with closed/depriving technologies. It is thus necessary for an individual whose
observation/reading is assisted via AR technologies to develop a strong knowledge about them via the
acquisition of information about their technical (e.g., deceptive and defective design) and legal nature
as well as eventual compromising informations about them likely to enlighten the trust or distrust in
them. Just like the reading process is optimized via a metacognitive awareness (Anastasiou & Griva,
2009), the augmented reading process is optimized via a rich and accurate knowledge of the used
technologies' characteristics and functioning, i.e., awareness about their possibilities and possible naws
(i.e., present in its design) likely to compromise the reading process' viability. As we said, this
knowledge (favoring the enlightened trust) is hard to acquire if fundamental practices such as reverse
engineering are forbidden and made impossible by the technology's designer.
Specihc representamens are designed to be observed via specihc technological devices, and can thus
not be meaningfully interpreted by an individual. For example, QR codes require to be meaningfully
observed a connected device which will translate the observed representamen it into a human-readable
The focus on the augmented informations can lessen the focus on the real world. Cognitive resources
are, unlike computing, limited which can not be exceeded. The individuals thus have to deal with this
inherent limitation in their observation process. The more the focus on the augmented informations,
the less the attention to the world around him. The exercise of censorship by AR technologies toward
the observed environment/representamen can also weaken the augmented observation/reading process.
For example, we can imagine a specihc 'sensitive¯ geographic area censored by Google Glasses, due
to its censorship in Google Map.
The use of AR technologies can also induce a modihcation of the individual's perception and
interpretation of his observed environment/representamen. An individual who thus pays too much
attention on the provided informations from his technological device can thus, paradoxically, be more
focused on the digital informational environment aiming at augmenting his observation of the
representamen, rather than on the representamen itself. These technologies are thus likely to leash the
individual's reading process, via an alienation to the informational environment provided by the AR
technology. They can also weaken the cognitive strategies necessary to develop an emcient reading
process. Thus, the individual alienated to the technology for his observation and interpretation process
might lose fundamental abilities such as an emcient exploration of the limits of the observed
representamen's possibilities (via its unleashed manipulation,...), and navigate on an allocentric basis.
The individual observing the world through augmented reality technologies can thus not see better, but
more. This increasing quantity of information received is likely to induce a necessary management in
order to avoid to be overwhelmed and powerless via a loss of ability to develop a meaningful
observation and interpretation.
The daily use of AR technologies can favor the development of a cognitive dependence to them, by
weakening the individuals' personal cognitive skills (i.e., in his mobilization of prior information and
knowledge). This use can also favor the adoption of an egocentric navigation, fed via the
indications/evidences emphasized by the technology used as well as leash/weaken serendipity, via the
enclosure within a certain and comfortable cognitive environment. An individual's cognitive
dependency on a closed/depriving AR technology not only depends on this used technology, but by
extension on the private entity controlling it. We will thus consider the connected objects as 'tools of
power¯ (Stallman, 2012) likely to exercise a control over the individual and an 'unjust¯ power based
on secrecy (via technical closeness and a legal depriving policy). This control can also be decentralized
and exercised by other entities than the legal owner (e.g commercial partners in the business of
personal data (e.g. Facebook or Google services) or Governmental organizations exercising a power of
authority on the legal owner(s) in order to get a control over the individual's activities on it. This
control can be exercised on a deferred basis (e.g. collect of the data on the company's servers) or
directly (e.g., via the installation of backdoors in order to have the possibility to control the device
without referring to its owners.
An important risk constituted by the use of AR technologies is constituted by their potential cracking
and manipulation by a third-party taking control over the device and, by extension, of the individual's
'reality¯ via the modihcation of his augmented informational environment. The reading of QR codes
can, for example, be manipulated by a third-party to deceive the observer helped in his process by AR
technologies. According to the website
, 'Hacking a QR code means that the action
triggered would have been modihed through a manipulation. This is not possible, since this is the way
the small square modules are arranged that determines this action (the data is encoded by the module
arrangement). To change this action, one would have to change the arrangement of the modules. This
implies physically modifying the QR Code if it has been printed. QR Codes cannot be hacked, but it
is possible to replace a QR Code by another or to create a QR Code that will redirect to malicious
Recognition technologies can be easily deceived by individuals deploying strategies aiming at
disrupting their capacities. The URME initiative is a pretty good example. Invented by Leo Selvaggio,
it aims at deceiving the facial recognition technologies in order to disrupt the globalized surveillance
system. Savaggio (2014) states about his invention
: "When you wear these devices the cameras will
track me instead of you and your actions in public space will be attributed as mine because it will be
me the cameras see.¯ He also emphasizes that his invention succeeds in deceiving the Facebook facial
recognition system, which has some of the most sophisticated facial recognition software around. The
URME mask is thus a clear proof that recognition technologies can be easily fooled and disrupted, as
well as the individuals using them. We will also emphasize that while a technological device might
easily be deceived by these strategies, it is pretty easy for a human being who pays close attention to
an individual wearing this kind of mask that he his not who he pretends to be. The URME thus
emciently illustrates the potential issue of a too much reliance on AR technologies and the neglection
of natural analytic capacities in the observation and interpretative process.
AR technologies, initially designed to be emcient auxiliaries helping individuals in their
observation/reading processes, can thus easily be turned into opponent which do not improve but
weaken and negatively condition these processes. Closed/depriving and DRMized characteristics can
also constitute signs of a dehned ability to exercise an abusive control over the technological device's
users (i.e., as part of its intrinsic design).
1.+. Open (ork
As we analyzed earlier, Eco's open work concept refers to the work's design's model. An open work
thus possesses helds instead of strings of meaning, is internally dynamic and admits complexity, i.e.,
actually encourages a multiplicity of interpretations. We are going to see that the 'open¯ concept
applied to a work can actually refer to many other dimensions, whose characteristics were developed
or innuenced by the Free and open-source philosophies as well as the internet network.
The main concept is the 'open design¯. It was hrst coined by Kadushin in 2004, and was formalized in
the 2010 Open Design Manifesto (Vittouris & Richardson, 2012). According to Nuvolari (2004) and
Robert (1983), the sources of this movement (via the sharing of manufacturing information) can be
traced back to the 18th and 19th century. Bessen and Nubolari (2011) emphasize that aggressive
patenting put an end to that period of extensive knowledge sharing. More recently, principles of open
design have been related to the free software and open source movements (Vallance, et al., 2001).
Raymond, O'Reilly and Augustin (1997) established "open source" as an alternative expression to
"free software" and Perens (1997) published the Open Source Dehnition. Dr. Kiani (1998) realized
that designers could beneht from open source policies, and in early 1999 he convinced Dr. Vallance
and Dr. Nayfeh of the potential benehts of open design in machine design applications (Vallance,
2001). Together they established the Open Design Foundation (ODF) as a non-proht corporation, and
set out to develop an Open Design Dehnition (Vallance, 2001). The principles of open design are
closely similar to those of open-source hardware design and the creation of a hardware design
community based on the spirit of Free software.
Other terms are used to refer to the open design concept
- Open collaborative design;
- Free design;
- Free and open design;
- Open-source design;
- Open-source hardware;
- Open design and engineering;
- Open Peer-to-Peer Design.
We can notice that both the 'open¯ and 'Free¯ terms are used to refer to open design. This highlights
the ideological connict Stallman emphasizes between the open-source and the Free movement, with
commodity or freedom as core values. An open-work, used for example by the Blender Foundation to
qualify its productions, actually refers to a Free work respecting its readers' four fundamental
freedoms. We thus presume that open content (accessible) and Free content (likely to be read, studied,
modihed and shared without restriction) constitute totally dinerent designs and design's model. Both
these concepts, applied to design, however share as common characteristics the economy of
collaboration and contribution we have analyzed earlier.
An open work as dehned by Eco is designed to be interpreted originally. The open work concept
inherently implies, as we said, a design's model and a 'model reader¯, with intended whether
closed/connicting or open/interoperable mental models developed by individuals reading it (cognitive
communicational dimension of openness we are going to analyze). The developed mental model of an
open work can thus be leashed/conditioned by a cognitive silo (e.g., favored by a branding strategy and
an aggressive legal policy) or unleashed via a full interoperability between other works. The
interpretation as 'open-work¯ can thus consist to consider the intended possibility of any kind of
interpretation from the observed representamen. The interpretamen thus is intended to be
open/dynamic and not closed/static. The work's design's model can be renected in its code's nature :
whether closed or 'open¯ as part of the read - only paradigm or Free, as part of the read - write one.
The open design characteristics thus inherently require to be meaningful a Free legal license, such as
CC-BY-SA or Art Libre. We will thus consider that the choice of a depriving license for an open
work such as CC BY NC ND or 'all rights reserved¯ is meaningless, for it does not allow the
individuals to write over it (read-only paradigm), i.e., develop a concrete interpretation of the work via
the materialization of their own vision renected in a brand new work. A truly open work, in order to
be truly 'meaningful¯, thus has to allow its unrestricted and complete observation as well as the
possibility to copy (i.e., own it as an anti-rivalrous good), modify and share it in order to optimize the
collaborative interpretative and creative processes around it, via an open and decentralized reading and
collective intelligence process. The observation and interpretation of the work can also be made, in
order to be optimized, in comparison with other pieces (as part of its cultural cultural context, i.e.
having served as inspirations for its creation) and with other derivative ones. An open work, designed
to stimulate the observers' interpretation via a dynamic nature, can thus be designed to ht whether the
'read - only¯ or 'read - write¯ culture, i.e., be whether restrictive or permissive.
A digital open work also inherently requires the choice by the author(s) of a Free code and an open
format such as PNG, HTML5 or Webm, in order to ensure its universal reading, i.e., its truly open
nature. A Free content but not free code of an open work is thus likely to induce discrimination, i.e.,
compromise the work's open value/design. A good example is the No es una crisis documentary. This
work's authors had deliberately chosen a Free license in order to favor its free access worldwide.
However, they released their work under a proprietary Flash format, making its reading impossible for
individuals navigating online with only Free technologies and who did not want to install a
closed/depriving plug-in to read it. The team behind the documentary was proposed by a group of
librists to liberate it via a 'liberathon¯
in order to create a 'truly free¯ alternative version likely to be
chosen instead of the nonfree/closed one
Considering the dinerent dimensions of openness we have emphasized, we are going to analyze a
concept innuenced by the Free and open-source software movement, the 'open collaborative design¯.
According to the AdCiv (Advanced Civilization) website, Open collaborative design involves applying
principles from the remarkable free and open-source software movement that provides a powerful new
way to design physical objects, machines and systems. All information involved in creating the object
or system is made available on the Internet - such as text, drawings, photographs and 3D computer-
aided design (CAD) models - so that other people can freely re-create it, or help contribute to its
further evolution. It is essentially the same principle that is used to progress scientihc knowledge,
however in reality it is much more open and transparent than much of contemporary scientihc
research. The process is generally facilitated by the Internet and often performed without monetary
compensation. The goals and philosophy are identical to that of the open-source movement, but are
implemented for the development of physical products rather than software
. Open design is a form
of co-creation, where the hnal product is designed by the users, rather than an external stakeholder
such as a private company. Open collaborative design is a nascent held that has huge potential to
radically alter the way we create goods, machines and systems - not only for personal items but all the
way up to components of national or global infrastructure.
A clear example of open collaborative work, via an open development process (inclusive, anyone can
participate in the work's creation) is the Agata open work, whose development is based on a
communitarian basis. This project was established in late 2013 by Arthur Shamshadinov, director of a
Russian Kazan-based Propellers studio. Here is what he says about this open project
: 'Shortly after
the beginning, this project was supported by volunteers who started contributing concept art, making
3D models, writing the script and even composing music. Since then the discussion has been taking
place on a public page at Almost all of the decisions are made by voting, everyone can
participate.¯ As we said, this kind of open collaborative creation inherently requires, to be truly
optimal, a universal internet granting everyone the same potentiality of access and participation to the
Stark's paradigm about open-design also emphasizes the will to empower the individuals and give
them more freedom in their creative process and in the domain of both aesthetic and functional
creation. This famous designer participated in the creation of an online collaborative platform, TOG
or 'All creators together¯
. This platform provides a wide collection of open source designs, with
customers onering the possibility to be involved in the conception, taking ownership of the practice of
making and sharing ideas. According to Starck (2014), 'TOG is the only company who shows clearly
that the only acceptable next trend is the freedom of choice and the freedom to be dinerent¯. Each
client is thus onered the possibility to enjoy the piece as a naked design object, while also getting the
opportunity to form their own personal mix through colors, pattern and geometry.
This initiative
once again emphasizes the importance of openness, freedom and collaboration in the creative process
optimized via a universal internet network. Starck adds that anyone from around the globe can upload
their personal touches to already established designs. For example, communities and local tribes are
involved in the creative customizing process, developing decorated slip covers in straw or pearl chairs
for a chair, or translating their traditional patterns and techniques in contemporary design elements.
The 'open¯ work designation, whose use gets more and more democratized, can thus refer to many
dinerent dimensions, each of them inducing potential innuences on the reading process. We will thus
emphasize the following ones :
- Semantic : Based on Eco's 'open work¯ paradigm, with helds of meaning and 'nexible¯ design's
model with expectation of a dynamic interpretation;
- Legal : The work's legal nature grants the readers the right to read its content and code (e.g., source-
code or recipe) or read and write over it, empowering them in their reading. The CC0, CC BY and
CC BY SA are all licenses legally dehning a work as 'open¯ or 'free cultural¯ as dehned by Möller
(2006). If the work possesses an 'all rights reserved¯ or a CC BY NC ND license, we will consider
that its legal nature is 'closed¯.
- Compositive : The work's author(s) disclose(s) the entirety of the produced assets to the readers (as
open contents), so they can develop a rich and accurate understanding and interpretation of his work.
An open production pipeline and a full disclosure/sharing of information and data about the work
constitute core characteristics of a collaborative open design. However, we will emphasize that an
author's voluntary decision to disclose all his work's assets in order to enrich its readers' interpretation
can induce 'illegal¯ sharing and modihcations by them (independent legal status of the author's will) if
the author does not explicitly legalize it via the choice of Free licenses (as all work is copyrighted by
- Developmental : The work's creative process is fully disclosed by its author(s). The public can thus
observe its development pipeline from its inception to its achievement as whether empowering or
depriving (legal dimension) work. The public can thus observe the author(s)' renections toward their
work in real time, allowing to optimize the understanding of their creative process and enrich their
interpretation of the future work;
- Communicational : The communication term here refers to the concepts of interoperability
/neutrality and connict/discrimination when connected/merged works. This dimension can cover the
following domains :
- Technical : Free code and format, with open interoperable standards to ensure the technical
interoperability between dinerent works, and Free tools to achieve it in order to favor its remake,
remix and re-purpose (Blender Foundation, 2006);
- Cognitive : Interoperable or connicting/discriminating mental representations. Correlated with
permissive Vs depriving licenses as well as design and design's model (with potential silos and
cognitive silos weakening the interpretation as potential part of a mashup mixing several dinerent
works). This dimension concerns the meaningful simultaneous thinking about dinerent works;
- Contributive : Inclusive development process, i.e., universal, with anyone granted the same
potentiality of contribution. This dimension is emphasized by Pablo Vasquez (2013), Blender CG
artist and director of the open movie Caminandes, who states about his successful crowdfunding
campaign : 'Thank you all who made this possible, you helped improving Blender *and* brought to
life cartoons for everybody to share around, learn and study from the hles that will be on the USB
These dinerent dimensions of openness emphasize a more or less important degree of empowerment
for the public toward a work. Here are several degrees of empowerment :
- Cognitive empowerment, divided in two ones :
- 'Semantic¯ : Via ranges of meaning allowing the personal expression of creativity in the
interpretation of the work;
- Informational : Via the access of all of the production assets used to create the work. This oners
the possibility to develop a richer and more accurate interpretamen, via the access to its intrinsic
structure and composition.
- Legal : Via the choice of Free licenses for both the content and the code (with open standards
favoring its universal reading and non subjugation by a private entity exercising a control over his
experience via potential malicious features such as DRMs).
- Technical : Via the release of all the tools used to create the work necessary to read and write over it.
Optimized if Free formats and tools in order to favor its universal access, whatever the reading
devices/ecosystems used to observe it (for digital works).
According to this distinction between the dimensions of openness, we will thus state that an open work
(semantic dimension) can also be, for example, depriving in its legal, social, developmental and
communicational ones. Conversely, a closed (i.e., static) work can be legally, compositely and
developmentally open (i.e., inclusive in its development process). We will also highlight the fact that
an open (semantic) work can be closed in its compositional, legal, cognitive, technical and contributive
An open (contributive) work can also be whether achieved or unachieved. For example, a
collaborative translation of a closed (semantic) work's development process, made on an online
collaborative platforms such as Framapad, is open (contributive) during a certain laps of time, and
closed once achieved. It will thus potentially be :
- Still pursued but meaningless : For example, an online collaborative translation can be used by
contributors to translate an initial work and publish this translation once hnished within the delimited
laps of time. Once this time is over and the translation is copied by the group of contributors to be
published, this created collaborative work can still be modihed by anyone who connects to the
platform and create a new work from it. However, this new version will be considered as meaningless
if this page, forsaken by the initial authors, is not visited anymore;
- Never achieved : For example, a Free work, designed to be always in perpetual evolution via the
same potentiality of contribution for anyone. A good example is the Super Tux Kart videogame,
which grants anyone the possibility to enrich it and extend its possibilities via the creation of new
characters and levels.
An open work (technical and legal dimensions) can thus be designed to be permanently enriched or
extended via the creation of add-ons (extensions of the work which remain optional and extend its
possibilities) or via direct contributions to its code and content in order to increase its meaning, value
and resilience. Free softwares are good examples of fully open 'functional works¯. Let's thus consider
the GIMP Free software. Jehan Pagès (2013), one of the core member of its development team,
states : 'GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and
extensions to do just about anything.¯ The work's enriching of new functions is likely to change its
interpretation by individuals. For example, the GIMP can be mainly considered as a photo editor for a
photographer, a drawing program for a painter or a game maker by another individual who is
considering the program with its G'MIC plug-in
, which proposes specihc functionalities allowing to
create digital or physical (once printed) games like puzzles
We are now about to analyze an example of open work which hts most of the dinerent dimensions of
openness we have emphasized.
'n e$ample of Free open (ork / &lephant3s !ream
Elephant's Dream is the hrst 3D animated 'open movie¯ directed by Bassam Kurdali and produced by
the Blender Foundation. Its omcial website describes it that way
141 Developed by the Groupe de recherche en informatique, image, automatique et instrumentation de Caen ( GREYC
UMR CNRS) and released under a CeCILL (GPL-compatible) license. Here is the presentation of the G'MIC : 'G'MIC
has been made available as an easy-to-use plug-in for GIMP . It extends this retouching software capabilities by onering a
large number of pre-dehned image hlters and enects. Of course, the plug-in is highly customizable and it is possible to add
your own custom G'MIC-written hlters in it.¯
Elephants Dream is a story about communication and hction, made purposefully open-ended as
the world's hrst 3D animated 'Open movie¯. The hlm itself is released under the Creative
Commons license, along with the entirety of the production hles used to make it (.). The
software used to make the movie is the free/open source animation suite Blender along with
other open source software, thus allowing the movie to be remade, remixed and re-purposed
with only a computer and the data on the DVD or download.
Kurdali (2013) talks about the story and its voluntary open semantic dimension : "The story is very
simple-I'm not sure you can call it a complete story even-It is about how people create
ideas/stories/hctions/social realities and communicate them or impose them on others. Thus Proog has
created (in his head) the concept of a special place/machine, that he tries to "show" to Emo. When
Emo doesn't accept his story, Proog becomes desperate and hits him. It's a parable of human
relationships really-You can substitute many ideas (money, religion, social institutions, property)
instead of Proog's machine-the story doesn't say that creating ideas is bad, just hints that it is better
to share ideas than force them on others¯
. It is thus interesting that the story itself illustrates the
cognitive connict between two individuals toward a purely 'artihcial¯ reality :
- The old man, Proog, is full of cognitive certainty and comfort. He is used to navigating on an
egocentric basis, by always following the same cognitive patterns and interpretative directions toward
his psychic virtual reality ('The machine is like a clockwork¯). He acts as a tour-guide in order to
show the other protagonist the sights of his 'virtual world¯ . He looks to get used to evolving in this
familiar environment, and to have lost the sense of reality ('Why can't you see the beauty of this
place? How perfect it is?¯). We can thus presume that he developed a psychic virtual reality too much
disconnected to the actual one, and that this disconnection induced a cognitive enclosure within this
'perfectly safe¯ place;
- The young man, Emo, is at hrst curious to discover Proog's virtual world , but gets more and more
skeptical about it and asks questions disrupting the 'machine¯'s stability (i.e., Proog's cognitive
certainty and stability). He wishes to disobey the omcial rules in order to explore new sights and
places. His attitude and behavior emphasize a will of allocentric navigation fed by an exploration spirit
and serendip attitude favoring the unexpected discoveries and innovation.
As we said, this movie hts many of our dehned dimensions of openness we have emphasized :
- Open development : According to the movie's omcial website, 'By keeping such projects content
focused and temporal, it also is possible for a wide range of currently active volunteers to participate.
Not many people are in a position to give up a career (study, job) to become full-time employed on
the projects of their interest. But there are many active volunteers prepared and motivated to do this
incidentally for shorter time spans¯;
- Open tools : Favoring the work's appropriation and remix for the public, via its common technical
nature, not discriminating via the universal nature of the tools used to create it. The software used to
make the movie is the free/open source animation suite Blender, along with other open source
software, thus allowing the movie to be remade, remixed and re-purposed. The team behind the movie
emphasizes, talking about their motivations via this open movie, that one of the main goal is to search
for emcient ways to increase the quality of open source projects in general;
- Open format : The movie can be downloaded under the Free Webm format, allowing anyone to read
it from any device without restriction (no DRM nor depriving licenses applying to the work's code);
- Open legal license : Empowering legal license favoring the work's unrestricted appropriation by the
public, via a legal access and reading of both its content and 'code¯;
- Open design's model : Designed to be openly interpreted, with ranges of meaning composed of
subtle hints designed to trigger a wide range of interpretative possibilities. Kurdali (2009) thus
emphasizes the movie's open semantic design by talking about its composition of ranges instead of
strings of meaning : 'There are lots of little clues/hints about this in the movie-many little things
have a meaning-but we're not very "tight" with it, because we are hoping people will have their own
ideas about the story, and make a new version of the movie. In this way (and others) we tie the story
of the movie with the "open movie" idea.¯ He thus highlights the dinerent degrees of empowerment
we have emphasized earlier, granting anyone the same right to create from this work (i.e., read - write
The open work concept thus covers a wide range of dimensions, which necessarily have to be
considered to truly optimize the readers' empowerment, i.e., their interpretation of the work and, by
extension its meaning, value and lifestyle. The diversity of interpretations thus has to be favored by
legal, technical and 'ethical¯ choices from the author(s) in order to truly unleash the public's reading
and writing (i.e., creative) process.
4. Da*e < particle duality and obser*er e@ect as core parts of the comple$
obser*ation and semiotic hacking
'Our notion of reality is built on everyday experiences. But wave-particle duality is so strange
that we are forced to re-examine our common conceptions¯ Niehls Bohr
Bohr (1935) states that quantum physics force a 'radical revision' of our attitude to physical reality.
For Heisenberg (1957), 'We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself but nature
exposed to our method of questioning.¯ Everett (1957) developed a theory about the 'many worlds'
interpretation in order to explain that physical reality requires an independent observer to convert
states of superposition (where all possibilities, expressed mathematically as a wavefunction exist) into
one singular position. He thus proposed that the material reality we perceive is merely one part of an
interconnected wavefunction of all possibilities that continue to exist. Our reality is thus merely
relative to our observation. Observation is fundamental to deal with the wave - particle duality. Tim
Davis (2012) analyzes this curious phenomenon
: 'Wave-particle duality refers to the fundamental
property of matter where, at one moment it appears like a wave, and yet at another moment it acts like
a particle.¯ He then analyzes the dinerences between waves and particles :
- 'The properties of particles can be demonstrated with a marble. The marble is a spherical lump of
glass located at some point in space. If we nick the marble with our hnger, we impart energy to it -
this is kinetic energy, and the moving marble takes this energy with it. A handful of marbles thrown in
the air come crashing down, each marble imparting energy where it strikes the noor.¯;
- 'Waves are spread out. Examples of waves are the big rollers on the open ocean, ripples in a pond,
sound waves and light waves. If at one moment the wave is localised, some time later it will have
spread out over a large region, like the ripples when we drop a pebble in a pond.¯ Matter and light
exhibit properties akin to both a particle and a wave description. For example, electrons can be located
and appear as particles. They can also be dinracted by crystals, and appear as waves. An electron
never exhibits both wave-like and particle-like properties simultaneously. They thus sometimes behave
as particle or as wave, depending on the individuals' choice of observation. The wave carries with it
energy related to its motion. Unlike the particle the energy is distributed over space because the wave
is spread out. The electron exhibits both particle and wave-like behaviors. While the electron
propagates through space like a wave, it interacts at a point like a particle. This is known as wave-
particle duality¯.
Professor Russell Stannard (2013) looks at the wave-particle paradox and emphasizes that the very
words 'wave¯, 'particle¯, 'electrons¯,... are all words used specihcally to describe observation. It is
thus a misuse of language to try to use these words to describe what might exist in between the
. Bohr believed that the wave function represents our knowledge of the physical
phenomena we are studying, not the phenomena itself. In this sense, it is a potential which is realized
only when we make an observation; this observation causes the wave function to "collapse" into the
actual manifestation of the route taken. Wigner claims that it is the entry of human consciousness into
the picture that causes the wave function to collapse. Finally, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle tells
us that it is impossible to simultaneously measure the position (i.e., where it is) and momentum (i.e.,
how fast it is going) of a particle with inhnite precision. As the thinking and the production of
meaning are two same processes of semiosis with two dinerent angles, we will emphasize that
semiosis and quantum physics both focus on the observation and interpretation processes in the
production of meaning analysis.
Santon (2012), in Re·ising attitudes on realit, . quantum ph,sics and ·isual art, tries to use specihc
phenomena emphasized in quantum physics such as the observer enect to transpose them to the visual
art domain and propose a new approach to the perception and creation of reality. She thus argues that
visual art might assist us to conceive quantum concepts outside the bounds of scientihc formalism and
to possibly revise our attitude towards physical reality. She analyses one of her creative works entitled
DribbleJuice (2010-12) stating : 'Through the method of interaction with the work - sitting on a child's
chair to view the horizontally-mounted upside down painting through the mirrored peep-hole - I am
endeavouring to upset traditional viewing techniques and to dislodge ideas about the 'reality' of
viewing artwork, hopefully giving an expansive experience to the viewer. Additionally, the act of
peering closely into the peep-hole reproduces the activity required in the quantum world to manifest
one particular stream of reality in the ocean of all possibilities.¯ We will emphasize that these two
concepts ('streams of reality¯ and 'ocean of possibilities¯) share some strong similarities with Lévy's
actualized semantic helds and Tollman's cognitive map concepts we have analyzed earlier. Based on
these analysis, we will consider in our semiotic analysis that :
- A representamen can be observed whether as a wave or as a particle, depending on the individual's
choice of observation and virtual pole of his relation to it;
- The observation of the representamen as particle will refer to its interpretation as a clear, meaningful
and 'located¯ representamen clearly standing for a precise object (meaningful semiotic relation, with
clear thought-signs). This kind of observation can be favored by a certain and comfortable cognitive
framework (e.g., 'leashed¯ virtual pole of the relation to the observed representamen, likely to induce
an alienation to its reality). The cognitive process will imply a sequential (i.e., crystallized) intelligence
via the consideration of one single interpretative possibility through time and will be favored if the
individual possesses a cognitive rigidity and uses familiar cognitive patterns;
- The observation of the representamen as a wave will refer to its interpretation as a 'world of
possibilities¯ whose meaningful observation requires to locate one 'wave-pulse¯, i.e., isolate one
interpretative possibility and temporarily overlook the other ones in order to actualize a meaningful
semiotic relation. We will qualify the representamen's wavefunction as the interpreted class of possible
objects the individual observing it considers in his semiotic process. This kind of observation can be
favored by a rich and dynamic interpretative process. The cognitive process will imply a simultaneous
(i.e., nuid) intelligence via the consideration of several interpretative possibilities for the same
observed representamen at a time. This process will be favored if the individual possesses a cognitive
nexibility and uses nexible cognitive patterns. The observation of one possibility instead of the other
determined ones collapses the wavefunction and allows the observer to actualize meaningful semiotic
relations. The location of one wave-pulse to produce meaning within the observed 'wave-like¯
representamen can be turned at any time into a particle- like observation, via the permanent
overlooking of other possibilities to focus entirely on this isolated one;
- The observation of the representamen as wave - particle dual element is likely to induce a cognitive
connict and disrupt the observation process as well as inherently induce a choice of observation
(observer enect) in order to put an end to this connict/discomfort. This choice will thus be favored by
the individual's will to develop or preserve a cognitive coherence toward the observed representamen
(necessary to develop a meaningful actualized semiotic relation), via the consideration of dichotomous
states within the observed representamen. It will also imply a choice of context for the observation of
the selected state within the virtual pole of his relation to the representamen : whether choice to
observe it within a 'world of possibility¯ (i.e., relative) or as permanently isolated/located interpretant
(i.e., absolute);
- The observation of the representamen's position will refer to its meaningful interpretation (i.e.,
actualized semiotic relation with certain and meaningful interpretant relating the representamen to a
specihc object) at a T time. This will imply for a particle-like observation the generation of one clearly
located thought-sign (interpretamen). For a wave-like observation, it will imply the location of one
'wave-pulse¯, i.e., one interpretative possibility within the considered ones;
- The observation of the representamen's momentum will refer to the consideration of the individual's
known (i.e., already dehned) interpretative possibilities. The simultaneous observation of all the
dehned states of a dynamic representamen such as a Transformer is thus likely to induce uncertainty
in the semiotic process (via the dinusion of the cognitive resources to try to produce meaning from
potentially connicting states with dinerent characteristics such as a plane and a car). In other words,
the more interpretative possibilities the individual observing a representamen considers, the more
freedom he exercises over his semiotic process, via more choice likely to induce more cognitive
uncertainty. The representamen's meaningful wave-like observation thus requires for the individual to
operate a choice within his known interpretative possibilities (i.e., the location of one 'wave-pulse¯).
Thus, the simultaneous interpretation of an open work according to two dinerent contradictory -
however credible and meaningful - interpretations is likely to disrupt the semiotic process, via the
simultaneous integration of two dichotomous thought-signs within it;
- The observed representamen's 'momentum¯ can be increased via the V - A dynamic, and the
actualization of new interpretative possibilities based on the observed and interpreted sign-vehicles.
This process can be favored if the representamen's design is semantically open (i.e., 'intrinsically
dynamic¯ and 'virtualizing by design¯) and if the individual's virtual pole of his relation to it is rich
and unleashed (e.g., via rich culture and 'good reading¯). The individual's open-mindedness, cognitive
nexibility and psychic elasticity (e.g., used to stimulating his V - A dynamic and dealing with
cognitive connict by integrating other interpretative possibilities in his cognitive framework) is thus
necessary for innovation to happen. This innovation will be induced by a cognitive restructuring
favored by the integration of other interpretative possibilities, whether actualized by himself or by
other individuals. In a nutshell, we will thus consider :
- The richer the knowledge, awareness and consideration of interpretative possibilities about
the observed representamen, the more its momentum;
- The more stimulated the V - A dynamic, the more the chance to increase the observed
representamen's momentum and the more the individual's freedom over his semiotic process (for the
more actualized interpretative possibilities onering a wide range of choice) but also the more cognitive
uncertainty (if the dinerent possible 'positions¯ are observed simultaneously). We will emphasize two
characteristics of this observation :
- The lesser the momentum, the more the individual's interpretation is likely to be
enclosed in a certain, stable and familiar cognitive environment and favor its alienation to the observed
representamen's reality (Lévy, 1995), i.e., to be turned into a particle-like observation;
- The more the observed representamen's momentum, the more the individual's
cognitive freedom over its design's model (especially if designed to be restrictive and alienating, e.g.,
if closed/depriving, DRMized and branded). This can thus increase the individual's cognitive defenses
against innuence and manipulation techniques, via the exercise of freedom over the observed
representamen by disobeying to the majority representations/attitudes about it, i.e., to the omcial
and/or majority actualized interpretations of the representamen (optimized if permanent V - A
We will also, based on these dinerent considerations, highlight a resemblance between the
nuid/crystallized intelligences and the wave/particle characteristics :
- The nuid intelligence allows to develop simultaneous thoughts. This is similar to the characteristics
of the wavefunction and the 'world of possibilities¯ composing the wave. This can stand, in our
semiotic analysis, for the actualized semantic helds, with no sequential order (possibility to observe
meaningfully any located 'position¯ without any precise order) as well as a spread out 'energy¯
(distributed over space). This last point will refer, in our analysis, to the 'spread out cognitive energy¯
(i.e., mobilized cognitive resources for perception, attention, interpretation and memorization). The
simultaneous intelligence will thus be solicited in the observation of several considered possible
positions at a T time (i.e., observation of the wave-like representamen's momentum);
- The crystallized intelligence allows to develop sequential thoughts. This is similar to the particle
characteristics and the particle-like observation, with a clear trajectory and 'located¯ position (with
located 'cognitive energy¯) every time the individual observes the representamen as a particle.
The nuid intelligence (referring in our analysis to the simultaneous observation and interpretation of
several interpretative possibilities) thus requires, for the semiotic process to be meaningful, the
isolation of one possibility in order to actualize a meaningful semiotic relation. A good example is the
optical illusion of the young lady and the old woman
, which requires for the observer aware of the
existence of the two interpretative possibilities to isolate one shape and overlook the other one in order
to produce meaning within his semiotic process. For example, the individual can choose, in his
reading process, a specihc semantic path within a possibility of many actualized ones. This analysis
hts Santon's paradigm based on quantum physics with the observation of a stream of reality in an
ocean of possibilities. The rhematic interpretant shares some strong similarities with the wave-like
observation for it only refers, in the relation to the object, to the qualities of the observed
representamen (i.e., hrstness structure), which are also the qualities of a whole class of possible
objects. The rheme is thus neither true nor false and is equivalent to a variable in a functional
proposition. It functions like a form with blanks to be hlled in or a space on a questionnaire (e.g., '...
is red"). For example, a person's portrait, with no other indications, represents a whole class of
possible objects: the people who look like the portrait.
The wave-like observation thus refers to the interpretation of the observed representamen as standing
155 Nicole Everaert-Desmedt (2011), « Peirce's Semiotics », in Louis Hébert (dir.), Signo [online], Rimouski (Quebec),
for whole classes of possible objects, based on its intrinsic characteristics as well as the individual's
virtual pole to it (with expectations and intentions toward it). It can thus be based, as we will see, on
the dinerent levels of the Peircean semiotic model : hrstness (qualities), secondness (contiguity and
practical experience) or thirdness (rules and laws) and be enriched via a modihcation of the observed
representamen (i.e.,¯writing process¯). This enriching is thus likely to increase its momentum, via the
integration of new sign-vehicles triggering new thought-signs/interpretative possibilities. The
unleashed wave-like observation based on the disinhibited enriching of the observed representamen to
actualize new meaningful semiotic relations will be at the heart of the synectiction practice we will
analyze further in this work. We will also emphasize that the particle-like observation can be favored
by the secondness and thirdness structures, with the development of familiar cognitive patterns and
behaviors renecting a too much compliance to the observed representamen's design, i.e., its omcial
interpretative rules (i.e., deductive interpretation). This leashed relation to the observed representamen
is likely to favor the development of induction (via a familiar experience with the observed
representamen, with egocentric navigation between the virtual and actual poles of his relation to it)
likely to be urned into deduction (via the crystallization of attitudes toward it and internalization of the
interpreted rules). The individual's alienation to the observed representamen's design's model (via his
conscious or not choice to obey the observed representamen's omcial rules) is thus likely to favor a
particle-like observation, depending on the representamen's design (whether static or dynamic, open or
closed). As we said, the representamen's design (with inherent design's model) can be composed of
strings or ranges of meaning (implying the use of crystallized and/or nuid intelligences). The
interpretative possibilities of an observed dynamic representamen can be based on :
- Only its dynamic design (i.e., alienation to its reality and dehned omcial rules);
- On its dynamic design (thirdness) and experience with it (secondness), for example via its usual use
according to a purely subjective and arbitrary actualized state (with initial V - A dynamic);
- On its dynamic design, experience with it and intrinsic qualities (hrstness), whether initially present
in its design or enriched by the individuals;
As we said, the observed representamen's design and design's model can be whether :
- Static : Closed, designed to be interpreted as a particle and likely to alienate the individuals to its
dehned reality (omcial design). A closed design can be favored by closed/depriving nature preventing
the individuals to access informations about its composition (forcing a 'blind¯ trust), a depriving legal
license preventing its modihcation and a branding strategy aiming at crystallizing the individual's
attitudes toward the observed representamen; or
- Dynamic : Open, designed to be interpreted as wave-like and potentially stimulate the individuals'
V - A dynamic, i.e., its interpretative skills (e.g., via abductive inferential process), with strings or
ranges of meaning (Eco, 1963). An open design can be favored via a required/intended cognitive
engagement and decisional process in the interpretation. Conversely, a reihed but not intended to be
observed and interpreted state (i.e., omcious state such as a malicious feature within a deceptive
system) can be designed to be 'meaningless¯ for the individuals observing the deceptive
representamen (via their unawareness of its existence) while being fully 'meaningful¯ for the
representamen's creator/rights holder(s). Thus, this omcious feature allows them to exercise an abusive
'hidden¯ control over the representamen's users. We will analyze this issue in detail later;
- Dual : Intended wave - particle dual interpretation, with choice of observation between two
dichotomous designed states.
- Discriminating or interoperable : Encloses/leashes the semiotic process or opens up new
interpretative possibilities (i.e., stimulates the wave-like interpretation). Can be strategic in order to
preserve a distinctive interpretation (i.e., particle-like or leashed wave-like) or protect a clear identity
(e.g., core principle of the branding strategy we will analyze further).
The Bitcoin is a really good example of program favoring the unleashed wave-like observation via the
possibility to create a potential inhnity of new programs based on its Free source-code. Its intrinsic
virtualizing by design nature is emphasized by this article depicting the creative process of a young
hacker having developed an unleashed and strongly stimulated virtual pole of the relation to the
Bitcoin software
Most people think of bitcoin as a form of money, if they think of bitcoin at all. But 19-year-old
hacker Vitalik Buterin sees it as something more - much more. He sees it as a new way of
building just about any internet application. Borrowing code from this rather clever piece of
software, independent hackers have already built applications such as the Twitter-style social
network Twister, the encrypted e-mail alternative Bitmessage, and the unseizable domain name
system Namecoin. But Buterin believes that many other applications can beneht from the genius
of the bitcoin software, and that's why he's joining forces with several other hackers to create
something called Ethereum.
The Duct Tape is also a good example to illustrate the stimulation of the unleashed and creative
observation process, based not on its omcial design (which aims at hxing things) but on its intrinsic
characteristics favoring its manipulation and modihcation. Thus, this invention can easily stand for
almost anything once transformed (via individual or collective V - A dynamic) such as a wallet, a hat
or a rose.
The wave - particle duality concept thus hts perfectly the design, design's model and mental model
ones. A dynamic representamen is thus designed to be observed and interpreted as a wave, i.e.,
standing for several possibilities of interpretation, but mainly or exclusively according to its omcial
rules. Thus, if a Transformer toy, with three designed states (e.g., robot, plane and car) is only
observed as a robot, then we will presume that the two other states (the plane and the car) are
meaningless, for they are not considered in the observation process, i.e., integrated in the semiotic
one. Its observation as a static representamen (with only one interpretamen standing for the same
source object at each observation) is thus likely to induce a 'particle-like¯ mental model with a certain
and stable 'trajectory¯. Conversely, a 'static¯ deceptive by design one, especially if closed/depriving
15$ httpC))
nature based on 'blind¯ trust toward its omcial design, is designed to be observed as a particle. Its rich
and accurate meaning (i.e., dynamic interpretation, with observation of both its omcial and omcious
design) will however only be produced by its complete observation, e.g., via the practice of reverse-
engineering and the disobedience to its omcial rules.
The enriching of the observed representamen's dynamic design via the focus on its intrinsic qualities is
likely to disrupt its omcial design's model dehned by its author. Let's thus consider a Transformer-like
toy composed of three omcial states : a robot, a car and a plane. This toy is thus omcially designed to
be interpreted as standing only for these three omcial states (intended mental model) via the
application of a rule of behavior necessary to observe them. However, the individual observing it
notices that this toy is made of plastic and can thus easily noat on water. He will thus add another
interpretative possibility in his semiotic process, observing the representamen as a 'wave¯ possibly
standing (if located) for a boat, considering its intrinsic characteristics. The toy's creator might thus
consider this original and unintended interpretation as a threat, for he also commercializes 'dynamic¯
toys with an omcial boat design. The individual having 'hacked¯ the toy (via the disobedience to its
omcial rules to adapt to his needs and expectations) might thus not desire to purchase a new toy
specihcally designed to possess the boat state. The hacking philosophy, which aims at systematically
disobeying the omcial rules to build something new, thus allows to stimulate the dynamic/wave-like
observation , via the virtualization and actualization of new semiotic relations.
4.. The increase of the obser*ed representamen3s momentum
The observation process, based on the wave - particle duality and the choice of observation, inherently
involves the notion of 'movement¯, 'direction¯ and 'energy¯. This also shares some resemblances with
the V - A dynamic (as moving of conhguration from one actualized state to another one) as dehned by
Lévy (1995) and the 'work in movement¯ as dehned by Eco (1963). As we said, the observed
representamen can thus be whether clearly located (if particle-like observation) or 'spread out¯,
requiring for the observer the location (via cognitive isolation) of one 'wave-pulse¯, and enriched via a
psychic movement (i.e., V - A dynamic). This psychic process can be favored by open works such as
works in movement. The 'speed¯ will thus be generated by the psychic dynamic and the 'kinetic
energy¯ produced by it (whether leashed or unleashed, via expression of creativity and creative
intelligence. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. There are many forms of kinetic energy :
- Vibrational : The energy due to vibrational motion;
- Rotational : The energy due to rotational motion;
- Translational : The energy due to motion from one location to another.
We will retain, in our analysis, the translational form. The production of kinetic energy in the
interpretation process is thus produced by the V - A dynamic stimulating the semiotic relation via the
moving from one actualized meaningful interpreted state to another one (according to Lévy's analysis,
1995). The increase of the observed representamen's 'speed¯, via the enriching of interpretative
possibilities thus induces the increase of its momentum (i.e., frequency if wave-like observation)
which stimulates the observation and interpretative processes, i.e., the semiotic one. This psychic
process will also enrich the observed representamen's reality for, as Lévy (1995) states, world and life
are in a permanent enriching when virtualization and actualization are associated. The individual's
psychic movement and use (via emcient mobilization) of cognitive resources are thus necessary to
enrich the meaning of observed representamens. The V - A dynamic, as psychic movement necessary
for creativity and innovation to happen, is favored by a psychic nexibility an a wide and nexible
cognitive framework. It can also be favored by intrinsically dynamic kinetic works, as made possible
for example via specihc construction sets (FAT, 2012). The cognitive 'kinetic energy¯ will thus imply
the psychic dynamic and a potential cognitive restructuring as source of innovation in the semiotic
process. As we analyzed earlier, a work's lifestyle depends on its observation and interpretation. Thus,
a work's 'frequency¯ (whose value resides in its rich, diverse and unleashed individual and collective
interpretation onering a wide range of interpretative possibilities) will be optimized if observed and
interpreted with a strong cognitive diversity coming from an open and decentralized process.
The actualization of new possibilities for an observed representamen can concern the three levels of
the semiotic model :
- Firstness : Via its new qualities likely to trigger new interpretative possibilities/thought-signs;
- Secondness : Via for example a change in the context of observation or use and the discovery of
initially unexpected consequences when use in a specihc context
- Thirdness : Via the actualization of new rules/conventions (e.g., a consensus toward an
original/unintended mental model with a dinerent semantic held from the original design opening up
new semantic paths and interpretative possibilities,...).
The V - A dynamic is thus optimized, as we said, if the individual observing the representamen
possesses an unleashed virtual pole of his relation to it (e.g., with strong original expectations toward
it) as well as with the serendip attitude and an optimized abductive process bound to it
. The practice
of hacking, and especially of reverse-engineering, aims at developing a complete observation and
enriching of the interpretation process as well as increasing the individual's freedom over his semiotic
process. This practice can thus, as we analyzed earlier, favor the chance of unexpected discoveries and
favor the abduction process likely to stimulate the creative intelligence (according to Sandri's analysis
we will analyze further). The exploration of the limits of the observed representamen's possibilities is
thus likely to favor the discovery of more sign-vehicles likely to multiply the interpretative
possibilities, outside the omcial rules/semantic paths intended to be taken by the observed
representamen's creator and as part of its intrinsic design and design's model.
The direction/trajectory (via the motion of the observed representamen) will also refer to the
actualized and explored interpretative directions/semantic paths within the actualized cognitive map
158 For example, an individual has purchased a nute to play music in his house. He however realizes that, when used in a
new context (i.e., a forest), its whistle systematically attracts birds. This initially unexpected property discovered whether
voluntarily or not will thus allow him to actualize a new meaningful semiotic relation, by relating this observed nute to the
birds systematically attracted by its sound when played in a natural environment.
159 We will analyze these concepts and their importance in the creative process later.
and semantic helds. Allocentric navigation can thus favor the chance of unexpected discovery of new
original paths to explore. It can also stimulate the observation process, via an unleashed navigation
between the virtual and actual pole of the relation to the observed representamen. Flexible cognitive
patterns, coupled to specihc expectations from the observed representamen (inductive and deductive
interpretation processes) can favor the chance of serendipity and innovation/enriching the cognitive
map and semantic held. Conversely, an egocentric navigation coupled to rigid cognitive patterns (i.e.,
via an alienating deductive interpretation) based on a strong certainty and familiarity in the
observation process is not only likely to prevent the increase of the observed representamen's
momentum. It is also likely to slow the process down (via the more and more overlooking of initially
considered possibilities) and to induce a transformation into a particle-like nature.
Familiarity, cognitive certainty/comfort coupled to restrictive physical, digital or psychic 'features¯
such as DRMs, mental DRMs or cognitive silos are thus likely to freeze of the semiotic process via the
generation of a hnal logical interpretant favored by the leashing/conditioning of the virtual pole of the
relation to the observed representamen. In other words, they can strongly weaken or prevent the
increase of the observed representamen's momentum (via the actualization of new interpretative
possibilities) and the nuid intelligence via the simultaneous thinking and the partitioning/connict
between competitive representamens interpreted as connicting. We will thus presume that the more
disinhibited the individual's relation to the observed representamen (e.g., via manipulation and
cognitive processes such as reverse-engineering,...) and stimulated/exploited creative
thought/intelligence in the observation process (via disobedience to the representamen's omcial
rules/design's model such as the search for the interoperability between representamens designed to be
connicting), the more the observed representamens' momentum.
The increase of the observed wave-like representamen's momentum hts the 'do not surf but make
waves¯ paradigm emphasized by Shneiderman (1999). Thus, it is important for the individual who
wants to develop his creative intelligence toward the observed representamen (and by extension his
freedom) to not only explore the limits of the observed representamen's possibilities, but to explore
new potential and actualize new ones (via the V - A dynamic). As we will see later, the representamen
has to be observed as a 'world of possibilities¯ (i.e., already dehned) likely to be enriched by a
potential inhnity of new ones in order to optimize the semiotic hacking process. The actualization of
new functions is thus likely to stimulate the semiotic process, and the enriching of new characteristics
(via the modihcation of the representamen) is likely to enrich its interpretative possibilities, via new
observable sign-vehicles triggering new thought-signs relating the observed representamen to new
The representamen's momentum can be, as we said, increased via an increase of the number of
individuals observing it. The collective intelligence and the multiplication of diverse interpretative
possibilities (favored if favorable social norms for collective intelligence and cognitive connict, i.e.,
innovation) is thus fundamental for the collective interpretation process to be optimal. In other words,
the more observed and cognitively appropriated the observed representamen, the more valuable (i.e.,
meaningful) and resilient it becomes. The resilience term will here refer to the observed
representamen's sustainability in case of 'shock¯ such as an attempt of censorship. This is similar to
the peer-to-peer principle, with the speed of the online sharing process depending on the number of
individuals involved in the process (the more the individuals involved, the faster and resilient it
The creator's choice of the observed representamen to release it under a permissive/empowering legal
license can favor this collective appropriation and increase of momentum, i.e., value via meaning and
resilience. As the EFF (2014) states, 'By giving up power over our art, our art gains more power¯.
The FAT Lab (2014) emphasizes the gain of momentum of a representamen via the increase of its
popularity, i.e., the multiplication of its observation and interpretation : 'The project inspired many
other DIY omine network projects and since last year after Snowden the site gained again new
momentum. It is interesting how this and similar projects are perceived in a dinerent light today.¯ Free
digital goods constitute the perfect example of virtualizing by design goods (i.e., designed to be
observed and enriched on an open, decentralized and unrestricted basis), for they are designed to be
viable, sustainable and resilient via their anti-rivalrous nature.
The liberation of closed/depriving representamens can thus constitute a really emcient way to increase
and optimize their value and resilience via the increase of their momentum. Let's consider two clear
examples. The hrst one is the Blender software, which was initially a closed/depriving program whose
development was strictly reserved to the company commercializing it. After the company got
bankrupt, a world-wide community decided to purchase the software in order to release its source
code and turn it into a new Free program. Blender has now become one of the most successful Free
software and is evolving extremely quickly, benehting from a world-wide community of fans and
developers. The second example is the Glitch videogame. This initial closed/depriving MMO shut its
servers on December 2012, leaving a community frustrated to not be able to keep playing this game.
However, its creators/legal owners decided to embrace the Free culture and released all the assets used
for the game under a public domain license (explicit right to do anything with them without
restriction). Two months later, several new projects based on the game bloomed online, giving Glitch
another life thanks to the support of a legally empowered community.
The Streisand and Flamby enects are also good examples of the increase of the observed
representamen's momentum, i.e., of its value (through meaning) and resilience. Based on these
analysis, we will thus presume that :
- The more copied and shared (i.e. multiplied and decentralized), the higher the work's resistance and
- The higher the cognitive connict between observers about an observed representamen, the more
likely innovation is to happen;
- The more the actualization and expression of new ideas, the richer the observed representamen's
12 httpC))'e-co##ons-ena4les-ret.rn-glitchE
possibilities and the more its momentum;
- The more the observed representamen's momentum (i.e. the more stimulated and frequent the V - A
dynamic), the higher the observer's freedom (i.e. control over his own mind) and the lesser the risk of
alienation (as dehned by Lévy, 1995);
- The more closed/centralized power the author exercises about his work (e.g., via closed/depriving
nature), the less value and meaning the work is likely to develop (for favored standardized
interpretations induced by 'blind trust¯ toward its omcial design);
- The more open/decentralized the representamen's development process, the richer its meaning and
value is likely to be, via a higher probability to increase the observed representamen's momentum
favored by the same potentiality of access, ownership and unrestricted observation, interpretation and
enriching. Favored if the representamen is designed to be viable and sustainable;
- The more discriminating (social, cognitive and technical dimensions) the work's design, the less its
value is likely to be developed (for less chance of collective reading and intelligence about it;
- The more standardized and matching the author's model the interpretations of a depriving work are,
the more power the author possesses over the individuals' mind toward his work;
- The more diverse and divergent with the author's model the interpretations of a representamen is, the
more empowered/free the individuals and the less risk of abusive power the author is likely to exercise
over them;
- The more the momentum of an observed 'wave-like¯ representamen (interpretamen and/or
interpretant), the wider the interpretative possibilities, and the more spread out¯ the cognitive
resources if observed;
- The more the momentum, the harder it gets for the representamen's right holder(s) to anticipate the
individuals' interpretations of their 'intellectual property¯
. Likely to lose it (e.g., if genericide/loss of
mental association (Doctorow, 2013) or if expressed dinerently (new expression likely to induce new
legal rights and threaten the 'exclusive rights¯ on the idea);
- The more closed/centralized the representamen's development process, the more the risk of loss of
momentum (via closed/depriving and static designs likely to favor the individuals' alienation to its
4.#. The cogniti*e confict bet(een (a*e0like, particle0like and (a*e < particle dual
Davis (2012) emphasizes that 'Colliding particles will bounce on each other but colliding waves pass
through one another and emerge unchanged. But overlapping waves can interfere - where a trough
overlaps a crest the wave can disappear altogether. When two waves occupy the same place at the
same time, they exhibit constructive and destructive interference- their amplitude combine and either
11 =e %ill analy0e this iss.e later.
amplify or cancel out- producing sequential lines and dark lines.¯
We will emphasize a resemblance between this phenomenon and the cognitive connict between two
dinerent interpretations of the same observed representamen. Thus, the observation by two individuals
observing the same representamen as a particle (i.e., excluding other interpretative possibilities)
induces, if expressed, a cognitive connict between two 'rigid¯ and 'excluding¯ interpretations. The
cognitive connict can be induced, for example, by :
- The production of dinerent interpretamens (e.g., rich/unleashed against poor /leashed ideas of the
representamen or connict between 'altered¯ ones such as DRMized representamens designed to be
unique for each observer;
- The production of dinerent interpretants (via distinctive relations to dinerent objects) with the same
or similar interpretamens (e.g;, mental models of a system).
Conversely, two individuals observing the same representamen as a wave (i.e., acceptance of other
interpretative possibilities/inclusive process) will be more likely to enrich their respective cognitive
framework and 'map¯, and to organize a cognitive restructuring likely to induce an innovation. The
collective practice of wave-like observation can thus favor the 'cognitive interoperability¯ and the
chance of cognitive restructuring via a better managed cognitive connict.
The cognitive connict can also be generated by the observation of both a representamen's omcial and
omcious design, cohabiting within the same deceptive by design observed entity (i.e, designed to
deceive the ignorant observers and hide them its true nature). This dichotomy between the omcial and
omcious designs (e.g., with dichotomous values and semantic helds) will induce an interpretative
connict based on the wave - particle duality characteristics. As we said, it denotes the existence of two
contrary states cohabiting within an observed entity, which require a choice of observation (via the
overlooking of one state) in order to allow the actualization of a meaningful semiotic relation. The
permanent overlooking will be necessary to preserve a potential cognitive dissonance based on the
committing relation to the observed representamen. For example, an individual observing two
dichotomous states within a closed/depriving and branded (i.e., appreciated for strong values triggered
by its omcial positive design) representamen might develop a strong cognitive dissonance if observes
the omcious negative one. The consideration of the omcious design thus disrupts and threatens his
cognitive certainty and comfort. The cognitive connict generated will be favored if he was initially
strongly committed toward the omcial design, and is likely to induce his choice to overlook it. The
observation of the representamen thus requires a choice of observation between these two
contradictory/dichotomous designs (observer enect) to produce meaning and ensure a cognitive
certainty/stability while avoiding a cognitive connict between these two connicting states with one
unintended to be observed (as part of its 'design's model).
5. Serendipity and abduction as means to optimi2e the creati*e semiotic process
5.. Serendipity
"In the helds of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind¯. Louis Pasteur
Walpole (1754) qualihes serendipity as 'unexpected discoveries, made by accident and sagacity¯.
Thagard (1999) distinguishes three kinds of serendipity :
- To hnd something that was not sought;
- To hnd something that was sought but on an unexpected way;
- To hnd something but that is something quite dinerent than what was originally thought (e.g., Java
and Post-It).
Baumeister emphasizes that sagacity (attention and cleverness) is necessary to turn luck into
serendipity. Sagacity denotes the quality of being discerning, wise, sound in judgment, farsighted and
able to make good decisions. Discernment denotes the exhibiting keen insight and good judgment.
Farsight stands for, in relation to our analysis, two things : the capability of seeing to a great distance
or planning prudently for the future.
Serendipity can not be programmed, but favored. Dunbar & Fugelsang (2005) sate that 'Scientists are
not passive recipients of the unexpected; rather, they actively create the conditions for discovering the
unexpected and have a robust mental toolkit that makes discovery possible.¯ They suggest that
observational rigor can be harnessed to make more discoveries, and also that various investigations
into the scientihc method itself (e.g. philosophical, historical, psychological) have all supported the
idea that serendipity ("happy accidents") plays an important part. For Sandri (2013), serendipity
involves both perception and cognition.
Swiners & Briet (2007) emphasize the 'serendip attitude¯ in order to qualify the optimal state-of-
mind to favor the unexpected discoveries as well as their exploitation (necessary to produce
innovation). They also emphasize a particular cognitive operation necessary to stimulate the creative
and inventive intelligences/thoughts they call the 'inventive jump¯. This cognitive process is pretty
similar to the 'model¯ one emphasized by Besson & Uhl (2010), for it aims at transposing one
observed phenomenon from one 'world of knowledge¯ (e.g., nature) to another one (e.g., industrial
world, i.e., invention). Here serendipity requires a cognitive operation involving, for example, sagacity
or imagination in order to transform an unexpected discovery into invention. This concept can also be
related to the culture of intelligence emphasized by Moinet (2010) placing astonishment at the heart
of the process, and Besson and Possin's (2009) analysis of the 'memory as attitude¯ and as 'organized
curiosity¯ we have already analyzed.
Here are two examples of discovery and innovation induced by an 'inventive jump¯:
- Safety glass : Moving from a glass bottle, fallen from a table which did not break, to a windshield for
- Velcro : This invention was born from the creative observation of bardanne hooks (from the
bardanne fruit) clinging to socks.
The serendip attitude allows the individual to 'prepare¯ his mind and optimize his cognitivo-
perceptive system in order to avoid natural cognitive biases such as the categorization phenomenon
and its inherent discrimination (referring in our analysis to discrimination within the semiotic
process). It thus permits to hght against the conditioned observation and interpretation process (i.e.,
with the 'wave-like¯ observation of the representamen and interpretation as standing for a potentially
inhnity of objects (no cognitive silo,..). Cognitive silos and the categorization phenomenon are thus
likely to condition/shape the cognitive framework and favor the discriminated interpretation likely to
leash/weaken the creative and inventive thoughts.
Analyzing this concept allows us to notice strong similarities with the hacking philosophy. Thus, the
'playful cleverness¯ and unleashed 'exploration of the limits of the possibilities¯ dehnitions given by
Stallman can optimize the serendip attitude, by introducing the notion of 'fun¯, i.e., of intrinsic
motivation to be active in the 'unleashed¯ navigation and exploration processes. For example, it can
favor the disinhibited/unleashed manipulation according to Aarseth (2007) as well as the allocentric
navigation within the actualized semantic map and the virtual and actual poles of the objectal relation.
Its core principles (exercise of freedom via disobedience to the omcial rules and playful
cleverness/curiosity to explore the limits of the possibilities) thus ht perfectly the serendipity process.
The reverse-engineering practice is thus fundamental to be integrated in the serendipity process (i.e.,
as part of the unleashed manipulation and complete observation) in order to understand the observed
representamen's principles and build something new with them. It is also fundamental to integrate in
the observation process a critical distance toward the observed representamen in order to favor its
'cold¯ reading (i.e., led by the cognitive dimension of attitudes) instead of the 'hot¯ one (led by the
anective dimension likely to weaken/condition the interpretative process as well as the creative and
inventive thoughts). The 'bipolar navigation¯ can also be optimized by the mastering of intelligence
process and the 'memory attitude¯ (Besson & Possin, 2009), via for example the management of
ignorances (development and exploitation of the Q - A virtuous cycle as well as 'informational
holes¯/alveolus likely to attract new unexpected informations in the navigation and exploration
According to Sandri (2013), serendipity favors the successive hypothesis and hts the nexible
methodologies. It can only be generated if the searcher accepts his mistake. 'It would thus be a state
of availability, renexivity and open-mindedness that would allow the individual to consider mistakes as
constructive.¯ This dehnition can be coupled with Besson & Possin's analysis about the importance to
valor and fully integrate failures in the intelligence process in order to feed and develop the collective
memory and analytic processes. As we analyzed earlier, the mastering of intelligence process is thus
based on the creation of 'intelligences¯ between the informations extracted from the listing and
analysis of failures and ignorances. The more the failures are examined, the more accurate the
intelligence process gets, emphasizing identical situations, individuals (potentially revealing a
betrayal), prejudices due to the social categorization phenomenon (likely to induce strong cognitive
biases and a generalization that threaten the partitioning and local analysis of the information within
the memory) and unexpected conhgurations (social, cognitive, hnancial, legal and technical).
The mastering of intelligence can thus contribute to optimize the discovery of new unexpected
possibilities and potentialities, by feeding the interpretation as well as the creative and inventive
thoughts via the integration of uncertainty in the interpretative process (i.e., 'wave-like interpretation).
Finally, the optimization of the individual and collective V - A dynamic can be favored by the choice
of the creativity nature of the task (if observation operated in group) likely to favor the cognitive
connict, i.e., innovation as well as an open and decentralized process likely to favor the actualization of
original and unexpected ideas.
Considering these dehnitions and analysis, we will state that the development and optimization of the
serendip attitude is an empiric process based on the consideration of both successes and failures in
order to develop a higher form of knowledge. It requires, to be optimal, an open, wide and nexible
cognitive framework likely to be enriched and stimulated with the creative and inventive intelligences
in order to hght against cognitive biases such as categorization, stereotypes and prejudices (i.e.,
cognitive certainty and comfort weakening the unexpected discoveries). This specihc attitude will also
require for the individual a 'spirit of exploration¯ as dehned by Franceschi (2013). The individual thus
has to be used to making unexpected connections while exercising freedom in the observation and
interpretation of representamens. This attitude can be favored by the search for interoperability and
creativity (e.g., as main social norms within a group) and via the navigation and exploration of the
virtual and actual poles of the relation to the observed representamen. It can also be optimized via an
unleashed observation, manipulation and experimentation processes (favored via ownership and
anonymity according to Zimmermann, 2014). These processes are thus necessary to develop a richer
interpretation and explore the dinerent interpretative possibilities as well as new potentialities likely to
enrich, once actualized, the observed representamen's reality.
5..#. Serendipity in the cyberspace
According to Nussbaum (2013), 'digital literacy is the ability to accidentally discover what we are
really looking for. Today, the question is no longer to hnd information, but to hnd the right
information among all those available globally. There is no need to travel far or long to discover
dinerent cultures, music, movies or even exchange or instantly feel emotions through "hypertext
navigation.¯ The easy discovery of new cultures and emotions is similar to the datalove philosophy
(Zimmermann, 2014) we have analyzed. The 'global thought¯ and the culture of astonishment within
the cyberspace can thus strongly optimize the serendipity online.
The Internet is a good place to develop a rich interpretation of observed representamens. This network
thus constitutes a really good way to share informations and knowledge about anything, to hnd
communities of interests toward specihc objects/elements, and to become a part in open and
decentralized creative and inventive processes. In other words, this network can be an optimal
'collective memory¯, according to our global evolved collective mind analysis. From a technical point
of view, serendipity online requires, to be optimal, a neutral and universal network. This characteristic
is thus fundamental to optimize the navigation by ensuring the same potentiality of access and
participation for everyone and no discrimination of data within the network.
The exploration of new creative and inventive paths in the observation process can also be optimized
via the use of encryption (as core part of the cypherpunk philosophy we have analyzed) in order to
favor the individuals' disinhibited observation and interpretation processes based on experimentations
(Zimmermann, 2014) and an unleashed navigation. Serendipity can thus be strongly favored via the
integration of this philosophy : it can favor the unexpected discoveries and a disinhibited observation
of representamens likely to be perceived as 'compromising¯, 'sensitive¯ or dissonant with the
individual's social norms from the social environments he evolves in during the observation process.
Several techniques can also be used to optimize the navigation and serendipity online. For example,
erasing digital trails and using 'fake¯ identities in order to disrupt the 'hlter bubble¯ and other silos
likely to 'capture¯ the individual in a closed and depriving ecosystem favoring zemblanity instead of
serendipity. The use of Free softwares for the online navigation (e.g., Firefox with add-ons such as
HTTPS Everywhere, Privacy Badger or TOR) can also be used to optimize this process. Customizing
the web experience is thus necessary to favor the online secure/cypher navigation and to optimize the
unexpected discoveries. Navigation skills such as the ability to produce elaborate requests in order to
optimize the navigation and search of information online can also be useful.
5.#. 'bduction as means to optimi2e serendipity and stimulate the semiotic
5.#.. !e>nition of abduction
According to Peirce, abduction is a sudden intuition that would gather assumptions to arrive at a
comprehensive understanding of a phenomenon. The abductive suggestion comes to us like a nash. It
is an act of sight (insight), although an extremely fallible sight. He gives this example of abduction :
'Imagine that upon entering a room, I see a table with a handful of white beans on it, and next to it, a
bag of beans. I observe that this bag contains only white beans. I then formulate the hypothesis that
the beans on the table came from this bag.¯ Abduction is an argument that appeals to hrstness in order
to formulate the rule (it is a hypothesis, and therefore a possible rule), whereas induction is based on
secondness (the rule follows from repeated observation of actual, contingent facts), and deduction falls
exclusively under thirdness (as a rule, it justihes itself).
Abduction is thus situated among the three phaneroscopic categories Peirce dehnes to understand how
the human apprehends phenomena : hrstness, secondness and thirdness. The abduction is of the order
of hrstness because it comes from intuition and is about considering the possible. Abduction belongs
to Peirce's argument category of signs interpreted at the level of thirdness whose distinction depends
on the nature of the rule that binds the representamen to its object. The argument, in the case of
abduction, may consist of formulating a rule in the form of a hypothesis.
Here are the three rules binding the observed representamen to its object as commented by Sandri
(2013) :
- Formulating a rule in the form of a hypothesis that would explain a fact : abduction.
- Result of the facts : induction. Induction refers to operations that establish generalizations design and
test the consequences derived from assumptions ; it is of the order of secondness. Secondness is the
category of the reaction, the existence of the subject of the meeting with the feeling of uniqueness. It
is the perception of being on something else where there is meeting with the concrete, it is the
category of discounting;
- Imposed on the facts : deduction. Deduction draws conclusions, it builds actualized relationships, it is
about the third peircean principle : thirdness. Thirdness is the category of mediation that connects and
builds meaning, otherwise the system of objects would be an arbitrary and unmediated juxtaposition .
Deduction is the operator of generality. It favors the structuring thoughts and interpretative habits with
mental dispositions in accordance to the observed representamen's design one(s) and expectations
toward the representamen's design (i.e., familiar virtual pole of the relation to it).
Aliseda (2006) dehnes abduction as 'a reasoning process invoked to explain a puzzling observation.¯
Sandri (2013) dehnes this concept as a 'method for forming a general prediction without any positive
insurance that it will succeed in a particular case or usually, its justihcation being that it is the only
possible hope of our future conduct to rationally adjust, and induction based on past experience
encourages us and gives us strong hope that in the future, it will succeed. It is then assumptions,
unfounded suggestions, but can lead to understanding more complex phenomena, because the
assumption will be subsequently verihed by induction¯. For her, abduction reports on the specihcity of
reasoning that goes to the hypothesis, its logic is that of the creative interpretation and innovation.
Abduction allows the individual to formulate creative hypothesis, which is subject to a certain
normativity induced by a background, from a design we seek to experience and is directed by the
resolution of a problem. This is the suggestion of an idea for Mirowski (1987). It allows to introduce
new ideas based on the nexibility of the designer compared to its présupposés.
As deduction (with cognitive certainty) is based on experience and imposed by facts (concrete rule
conhrming or inhrming the initial hypothesis), it favors the anticipation of the observed
representamen's future positions (i.e., meaning produced from actualized semiotic relations for future
observations). Abduction, via the formulation of a new creative hypothesis, is thus likely to induce a
change of interpretation (via cognitive restructuring toward the observed representamen).
A relation of inference is monotonic if the addition of premises does not undermine previously
reached conclusions; otherwise the relation is nonmonotonic. Deductive inference is thus monotonic:
if a conclusion is reached on the basis of a certain set of premises, then that conclusion still holds if
more premises are added. By contrast, everyday reasoning is mostly nonmonotonic because it involves
risk (inherent and necessary for creativity and innovation and favored by the
disobedience/transgression of the existing and the majority norms) : we jump to conclusions from
deductively insumcient premises. We know when it is worth or even necessary (e.g. in medical
diagnosis) to take the risk. Yet we are also aware that such inference is defeasible-that new
information may undermine old conclusions. This paradigm thus emphasizes the need for an
allocentric navigation within both the actualized semantic held/cognitive map and between the virtual
and actual poles of the relation to the observed representamen. As we said, it is fundamental for the
individual to develop a wide, open and nexible cognitive framework and an unleashed relation to the
representamen. The wave-like observation (with the consideration of several possibilities of
interpretation instead of a single isolated 'particle-like¯ one, is thus necessary to favor the open-
mindedness necessary for the optimization of serendipity, and by extension the abduction process.
5.#.#. The 7background theory8 as necessity for abduction
Sandri states that abduction starts with the observation of a surprising/puzzling fact. 'This starting
point is fundamental and, although Peirce did not really explained, it is probably what led him to see
the scientihc process as a continuum in three stages. For a fact only surprises if something else was
expected. To expect anything else, there must have been prior to deduction and induction. We had a
hrst hypothesis (that Aliseda, 2006, called background theory). This hypothesis has been the omcial
listing is less, that is to say, a specihcation in terms of predicted enects : if this theory is true, then
that's what I should observe. Thus in enect dehnes Peirce's deduction. The background theory about
the observed representamen is thus necessary for abduction to happen, and analyzing how to optimize
its development sounds fundamental for optimizing the creative process.
This theory will be optimized by the semiotic hacking philosophy. This philosophy and its practice
will thus help to strongly develop and enrich this 'scientihc process¯ (composed of deduction -
abduction and induction) via the understanding of the observed representamen's rules and principles
(core part of the hacking philosophy according to Müller-Maghun, 2013) optimized by the unleashed
exploration as well as the 'serendip attitude¯ (Swiners & Briet, 2007) and the mastering of
intelligence (Besson & Possin, 2001). We are now about to deepen this analysis by focusing on the
observation process.
5.#.%. 'bduction and obser*ation process
The context of observation is fundamental to consider in order to fully understand the optimization of
the interpretative process. Abduction thus requires, to be favored, for the individual to unleash his
observation of the representamen he interprets and relates to an object in the actualization of the
semiotic process. As we have already analyzed with serendipity, this disinhibition is necessary to
optimize creativity and inventiveness.
Abduction is a starting point to understand complex phenomena. The triggered induction (via
abduction, i.e., with the observation of a specihc surprising case) comes from successive observations
of the same representamen and is likely to conhrm the creative hypothesis by the potential generation
of a rule (deduction). The abduction process has to be favored via the enriching of the interpretamen
helped by the rich and accurate understanding of the observed representamen's omcial and omcious
rules and principles (if deceptive by design via its reverse-engineering and the acquisition of
informations such as its legal and technical nature coming from an open and decentralized community.
This is fundamental to develop inductive and deductive inferences, necessary for this creative process.
The deductive interpretation of an observed representamen is thus based on a developed rigid or
nexible (via serendip attitude) mental model (via interpretative habits such as mental dispositions
toward the observed representamen). This mental model we have analyzed earlier is thus developed,
according to Norman's dehnition, via the experience acquired by the user based on its interaction with
the observed and manipulated representamen.
Here are the several dimensions necessary to be considered in the study of abduction and the
observation process :
- Cognitive dimension : Dehning the individual's cognitive relation to the observed representamen;
- Social dimension : Dehning the social context where the observation process is operated;
- Technical dimension : Dehning the technical context where the observation process is operated;
- Legal dimension : Dehning the legal context where the observation process is operated.
Let's hrst consider abduction in comparison to serendipity and the 'serendip attitude¯, for these two
concepts share interesting similarities and connections with complementary natures. According to
Catelin (2004), serendipity allows an exploratory logic, that favors imagination and astonishment when
happens an unexpected phenomenon. Sandri (2013) states that abduction is a process of normalization
of a surprising fact. It is an enort of reasoning when there is a rupture of our system of expectations,
an 'imaginative¯ reasoning soliciting the individuals' knowledge. She adds that serendipity allows an
exploratory logic soliciting imagination and astonishment. The serendip attitude is thus, as we said,
similar to the culture of intelligence which places astonishment at its core, but also to the exploration
spirit as dehned by Franceschi (2013) and the culture of the hypertextual navigation (with allocentric
navigation). All these cultures are thus based on a nexible cognitive framework and an unleashed
virtual pole in the relation to an observed representamen. The individual's horizon of expectations
(emphasized by Jauss, 1978) likely to be disrupted via the observation of a puzzling fact, can be
compared to his virtual pole of the relation to the observed representamen with his prior knowledge,
representations and expectations, as well as to his cognitive map developed via experience. It can thus
be whether rigid or extensible, and is likely to be disrupted by a divergence between the observed
representamen (actual pole) and the horizon of expectations toward it (virtual one). We will also
consider that abduction shares some similarities not only with serendipity and the 'serendip attitude¯,
but also with the V - A dynamic theorized by Lévy (1995). As creative hypothesis generating new
creative ideas and enriching reality, it is, just like this 'psychic movement¯ from one actualized (i.e.,
clear and certain) semiotic relation to another one, one of the main factor of enriching of the observed
representamen's reality. It thus enriches the observation and interpretation processes by stimulating the
creative and intelligence thoughts.
Let's now consider the individual's cognitive relation to the observed representamen. This relation is,
as we have already analyzed, composed of three dimensions : cognitive (knowledge about the
observed representamen), anective and conative (tendency to action toward it). It can also be critical
(critical mind and emotional distance favoring the 'cold¯/'rational¯ observation and interpretation,
dominated by the cognitive dimension) or crystallized (observation and interpretation dominated by
the anective dimension). It can also be shaped by the individual's commitment, trust (whether blind or
enlightened) and knowledge about the representamen. A too much strong commitment toward it can
thus weaken, as we will analyze, this process as well as the interpretative one.
As Sandri said, abduction starts with the observation of a puzzling fact and requires initial
expectations (i.e., 'background theory¯ developed by induction and deduction) to happen. This
observation generates for the individual a surprising/unexpected problem which will have to be solved
with the elaboration of a possible rule/creative hypothesis enriching the interpretative process and
likely to generate, via induction then deduction, a new interpretative rule.
This puzzling observation is likely to induce whether a cognitive consonance (i.e. in accordance with
the initial cognitive relation) or dissonance/connict, inducing two possible reactions : whether
cognitive restructuring (i.e., innovation) or crystallization of attitudes toward the representamen
(Festinger, 1957).
If consonant (e.g., in accordance to the initially interpreted and integrated values), this observation is
likely to enrich and strengthen the individual's initial interpretation and his attitudes toward the
observed representamen, likely to be crystallized. The cognitive relation to it will not be disturbed. A
too much crystallized cognitive relation to it (whether positive or negative) can weaken the observation
and interpretative processes as well as abduction, for the individual is more likely to overlook/ignore
the puzzling fact (whether consciously or not) in order to preserve his cognitive certainty, stability and
comfort toward the observed representamen. Let's hrst analyze the possible risk of crystallization of
attitudes in the creative semiotic process. The crystallization of attitudes toward the observed
representamen is likely to be induced by a strong commitment toward it (via production of behaviors
and free compliance to specihc requests, a blind trust, etc). If the individual has developed a'free¯
compliance to it (e.g., via a strong branding strategy based on manipulation techniques), the individual
is likely to internalize the observed representamen's rules and values (via feeling of freedom or control
over it). If the individual observes a disruptive element triggering an uncomfortable thought-sign not
htting his initial cognitive relation to the observed representamen, he is likely to develop a cognitive
dissonance, with an inherent need for justihcation (self-observation with cognitive awareness and
inherent choice) and for production of meaning (i.e., rationalization) toward the observed
representamen. For example, the initially trusted and appreciated representamen observed as a particle
(with certain, stable and comfortable observation and interpretation) can be turned into an observed
'wave-particle¯ dual one, i.e., with the cohabitation of two dissonant/connicting cognitions producing
uncertainty in the process. The 'disruptive¯ element will thus be likely to be whether overlooked (e.g.,
in order to preserve the initial cognitive certainty, stability and comfort) or integrated in the
interpretative process and enrich it via the formulation of a creative hypothesis/possible rule
(abduction) likely to lead to a new rule (deduction) and enriching the semiotic process.
Serendipity and abduction can be optimized via the metacognitive awareness (open-mindedness
necessary for serendipity) favoring the avoidance of cognitive biases/traps such as the 'self-amrmative
cognitive bias¯ or the crystallization of attitudes via a too much strong commitment and 'free¯
compliance toward the representamen's design or familiarity likely to be exploited by brands to
condition the individuals' interpretation process (Courbet, 2014). Serendipity and abduction can also
be favored by the collective, open and decentralized observation and interpretation of the same
representamen (favors the cognitive connict and innovation) and if the main norm within groups is the
search for creativity. A too much strong deductive interpretation (e.g., rigid mental model) is likely to
weaken the observation and interpretative processes (e.g., by inducing a 'particle-like¯ interpretation
and a leashed virtual pole of the relation to the observed representamen).
5.#.+. 'bduction and e$planation of the pu22ling fact
The abduction process is likely to be innuenced by a cognitive disempowerment toward the observed
representamen (e.g., via compliance to its omcial rules and a loss of responsibility in its process). It
thus can lead, if the astonished individual is too much disempowered toward it, to an external
attribution toward the observed puzzling fact. For example, a too much strong disempowerment
toward the observed representamen (i.e., with choice of comfort/security instead of freedom) can
attenuate the cognitive dissonance in case of observation of a compromising fact from the observed
representamen as well as the emciency of the abduction process, i.e. of the creative one.
Let's take three clear examples renecting three possible scenari of attribution and explanation linked
to the cognitive relation to the observed representamen in case of observation of a compromising fact.
1) An individual, used to fully 'blindly¯ trust (i.e. cognitively disempowered) his closed/depriving and
branded smartphone, observes that the answer it gave him when used the GPS (as part of the 'bundled
package¯) was false and led him to commit a mistake and lose his way. The fact is that he is the one
who actually made a mistake while using the application. The objective causes (not interpreted by the
individual) are in this example the individual's lack of knowledge about the use of the application
strengthened by his cognitive blind trust toward his smartphone. Moreover, this cognitive
disempowerment has led the individual to 'freely¯ accept his alienation to his 'smart object¯ he does
not control (via lack of knowledge toward it). This individual is thus more likely to attribute the
mistake to the device in order to avoid reconsidering his own attitudes and behavior, i.e., not to
reconsider his own use and risky/dangerous 'blindly trusted¯ relation which constitute the two
objective causes of this mistake. This reconsideration (requiring humility) would thus incite him to
enrich his knowledge toward the application in order to avoid repeating the same mistake in the future.
This individual might thus formulate the hypothesis (abduction to explain this puzzling fact) that the
smartphone is dehcient, for it is the hrst time he notices a mistake committed by it (false perception of
the fact induced by the cognitive disempowerment).
2) An individual who is totally committed to his smartphone and to the brand it is designed to be
interpreted as standing for (mental model matching with the representamen's design's one) observes
that his device does not respond (output) as expected according to his personal experience with it and
its omcial rules (induction and deduction) when gives specihc commands (input). This perceived
disfunctioning is thus likely to make him commit mistakes. His crystallized attitudes both toward the
smartphone (with internalization of the representamen's design, i.e.., omcial rules and rigid deductive
interpretation) and the social group he is used to evolve in is likely to induce a false assumption such
as the rejection of the fault on another group. He is thus likely to explain this disruptive fact via an
external attribution, and more specihcally via an exogroup discrimination strengthening the prejudices
toward a competitive group perceived as 'interested¯ in the smartphone's disfunctioning in order to
fool the individual's group of belonging and commit mistakes.
3) An individual who 'blindly¯ trusts (i.e. cognitively disempowered) his closed/depriving and
branded smartphone (strong commitment and anective cognitive relation to the brand he interprets it
as standing for) observes that his device has erased one of his stored hle he purchased on a silo. The
objective cause comes from the smartphone, and more specihcally to its 'deceptive by design¯ and
'DRMized¯ nature. In fact, this problem actually comes from the remote control exercised by the
entity having created it via the backdoor integrated in order to exercise an invisible control (here, via
censorship) over the users. Instead of reconsidering the smartphone's viability and reliability (likely to
threaten his strongly positive and blindly trusted relation), the individual formulates the hypothesis that
he is the one who does not use it correctly (internal attribution). In other words, the blindly trusted
smartphone is not observed as it should be by the individual in order to correctly interpret this
puzzling fact (i..e., as tool of control designed to deceive the user).
These false assumptions would thus have been prevented if the individuals had developed, in
accordance to the semiotic hacking philosophy, a strong knowledge (i.e., rich and complex
interpretation) toward the smartphone, a critical distance (i.e., via the choice of cognitive
empowerment in order to exercise freedom over it instead of being disempowered via the choice of
commodity, and a metacognitive awareness (in order to hght against potential cognitive biases and
innuence/manipulation techniques used by the smartphone's designers to condition its interpretation
and use (i.e., the users' experience with it).
The favorable cognitive relation toward the observed representamen in order to favor serendipity and
abduction can thus be favored by the culture of hacking and more specihcally of 'reverse-engineering¯
(Stallman, 1980; FAT, 2011; Young, 2013). The 'unleashing¯ of the cognitive process toward the
observed representamen thus requires for the individual to hght against natural cognitive biases (such
as stereotypes/categorization phenomena) and the potential internalization of 'strategic¯ ones such as
mental DRMs and cognitive silos. More globally, the exploitation of the semiotic hacking philosophy
in the observation and interpretation of the representamen is likely to favor the optimal abduction via
the clever integration of this new puzzling 'disruptive¯ fact within the interpretative process and the
formulation of pertinent creative hypothesis (i.e., not based on biased considerations). The emcient
management of the cognitive connict, generated by the observed puzzling fact, is thus necessary for
the individual to enrich and re-organize his cognitions i.e., favor innovation and enrich his
interpretation process (via abduction, induction and deduction).
5.%.1. 'bduction and choice of obser*ation
The choice of observation will be based on the observer enect. Thus, an individual observing a
representamen can whether choose (consciously or not) to observe it whether :
- As a particle : Certain and stable, with comfort/meaning in the observation of its position and
momentum; or
- As a wave : World of interpretative possibilities, with uncertain position until the individual decides
to locate one possibility in order to achieve a meaningful semiotic relation. The integration of the
puzzling fact as a potential new state likely to be actualized (if conhrmed) as new interpretative rule is
likely to enrich his interpretation but also to make it more uncertain. The elaboration of a possible
rule/creative hypothesis (via abduction) is thus necessary in order to re-develop a cognitive certainty
necessary for the semiotic process to be meaningful.
As we said, the individual can choose (consciously or not) to observe a representamen as a particle in
order to preserve the cognitive certainty, stability and comfort. For example, an individual who blindly
trusts his smartphone and who possesses a strong positive cognitive relation to the brand it is designed
to be interpreted as standing for is used to observing it as a 'brand extension¯, carrying the brand's
strong values like viability, reliability, security and freedom. He is thus used to observing it as a
particle, with crystallized attitudes toward it. If he discovers one day that this smartphone is 'deceptive
by design¯ and can also be interpreted as a tool of control designed to exercise a control over him
(carrying characteristics interpreted as dichotomous with the initially interpreted 'omcial¯ ones), he
might develop a strong cognitive dissonance and choose to overlook it (i.e., preserve a 'particle-like¯
interpretation based on full trust). This choice thus allows him to not deal with cognitive uncertainty
and discomfort, i.e., threaten his initial comfort and feeling of 'security¯ and 'freedom¯ (as part of the
brand's values). The conscious choice of observation as a particle, even if aware of the objective
'wave-like¯ nature (due to the dichotomous designs dehned by the smartphone's creator) can thus
allow the individual observing it to preserve his cognitive stability and comfort. In other words, the
choice of commodity over freedom, as described by Stallman, can be strategically exploited by
designers/rights holder(s) in order to optimize the individuals' voluntary compliance/alienation to their
dehned interpretative rules in order to weaken/prevent the potential risk of cognitive restructuring
toward their product, likely to threaten their 'intellectual property¯.
A clear example of wave-particle duality requiring a choice of observation is the Google Maps case in
the Ukrainian - Russian connict for Crimea. Google thus decided to operate a 'diplomatic¯ change in
his online cartographic service in order to ht the respective claiming and expectations of the two
countries toward Crimea. The same map thus presented two contradictory informations : observed
from Russia, Crimea was presented as a Russian territory, while as a Ukrainian one when observed
from Ukraine
. This arbitrary change in its service is thus likely to induce a puzzling observation for
an individual used to observing this area of the world using this closed/depriving and branded online
162 We will analyze this issue later.
service on dinerent places (e.g., Russia, Ukraine and Poland). The used service is the same (Google
Maps) but represents dinerent maps with contradictory informations requiring, the choice between
two contradictory possibilities in order to actualize a meaningful semiotic relation.
5.#.4. 'bduction and social conte$t
The social context can play a fundamental role in the observation process (based on abduction,
induction and deduction). There are dinerent social conhgurations to consider in the observation
process like social isolation (favoring a disinhibited process) or surrounding with inherent social
innuences likely to weaken/condition it if inhibited or to strengthen/optimize it via the collective
intelligence process if the individual is disinhibited and the collective creative intelligence process is
5.#.5. The potential negati*e e@ects of the social en*ironment
As we already analyzed earlier, social innuences (whether conformism, identihcation or
internalization) are likely to leash/condition the individual's observation process. They are thus likely
to prevent his unleashed observation via disinhibited manipulation and exploration of the observed
representamen's possibilities likely to favor the unexpected discoveries, the abduction as well as the
induction and deduction toward this new observed puzzling fact.
If the interpretative rules/background theories applied by the group toward the observed
representamen are too rigid and internalized by the majority, the 'divergent¯ individuals might be
strongly leashed in their abduction process (for strong pressure from the majority perceived), and
consciously decide to overlook the observed puzzling fact in order to avoid a cognitive connict and
preserve the cognitive stability and comfort toward the observed representamen as well as his position
in the group. Strong and rigid rules about the observed representamen coupled to the individual's
group of belonging exercising strong innuences on him toward it are thus likely to favor its
internalization and the overlooking/conscious 'particle-like¯ choice of observation in case of
observation of a compromising 'disruptive¯ fact.
The groupal thought (Moscovici, 1976) can also leash and weaken the abductive process, via the
individuals' fear of breaking the group's consensus and socio-anective climate (cohesion,...), whether
if they wish it to succeed and fulhll its objectives without 'disrupting¯ issues (e.g., for strategic,
anective reasons) or if they do not want to take any risk by exposing their creative hypothesis about
the observed representamen's puzzling fact. The individuals' will to preserve their social
status/position (self-interest) and not slow down the consensus process (common interest) coupled
with the fear of being marginalized by the group (will to preserve the social status and position and
threaten the collective decision's emciency) can thus dissuade him to express whether his puzzling
observation or the creative hypothesis/possible rule formulated to explain it.
Social innuences are thus likely to weaken the creative collective observation, interpretation and
problem-solving process (with abduction, induction and deduction) via a leashed/discouraged public
expression of divergent creative hypothesis likely to favor the cognitive connict (especially if
rigid/crystallized interpretations/attitudes toward the observed representamen).
Let's take a clear example, by considering a community strongly dedicated to a specihc brand. The
strict rules to integrate it are a strong devotion to it, via the purchasing of many expensive branded
products. This group is based on a strong social pressure exercised on the members about the brand
and favoring the internalization of its attitudes, considered as a 'lifestyle¯ for the members. Let's now
consider an individual having succeeded in integrating the strongly attractive (as perceived by him)
and be accepted by its members, who discovers that the branded product is 'deceptive by design¯ and
is actually a tool of control over its users. This discovery emphasizes its designer's (also rights holders
of the brand) bad intentions toward it. This individual, who has produced a strong commitment toward
the group and the brand (based on a blind trust and religious/dogmatic cognitive relation to the brand
and its 'extensions¯ (values, branded products absorbed by it via techniques such as evaluative
conditioning,...), is likely to not dare to formulate his creative hypothesis and try to conhrm or inhrm
it (i.e., develop a 'scientihc process¯) for fear of social sanction. The social pressure might leash the
individual in his scientihc approach operated to conhrm or inhrm his new creative hypothesis/possible
rule dehned to explain this puzzling observation. He thus might not dare to freely manipulate the
observed representamen or make experiences with it. This approach can also be leashed/conditioned
via the individual's identihed social situation likely to favor his inhibition and leash his experimental
process toward the observed representamen (Zimmermann, 2014).
5.#.9. The potential bene>cial e@ects of the social en*ironment
The social environment can also enrich/optimize the 'scientihc observation¯, provided it is well
managed by specihc practices based on the semiotic hacking philosophy. The sharing of information
and knowledge (as part of the mastering of intelligence process exploiting the collective intelligence)
can for example strongly optimize the individual's interpretative process. The initial rule (deduction)
about the observed representamen is likely to be more developed and enriched if collectively
elaborated (for fed by several observations and experiences toward it (induction), especially if the
observed representamen is complex (i.e., with rich and vast helds of designed possibilities) and hard to
be completely and 'emciently¯ observed by a single individual (e.g., a videogame).
Abduction can be favored via a collective intelligence process optimized by the mastering of
intelligence practice. The collective sharing and exploitation of information and knowledge (via the
network dimension of the mastering of intelligence process) is thus likely to develop and enrich the
interpretation of the observed puzzling fact (abduction). It however requires an emcient development
and exploitation of network, with a free/voluntary involvement in the intelligence process, which can
be optimized by intrinsic motivation, culture of astonishment (favors the puzzling observation) and of
intelligence favoring the elaboration of hypothesis and possible rules.
The conhrmation or refutation of these elaborated creative hypothesis can also be optimized by a
collective process (e.g., via collective manipulations and experimentations), favored if open and
decentralized for less social innuences and cypher exchanges/relations. If expressed by someone else
observing the same representamen (inducing a cognitive connict for two divergent interpretations), the
cognitive connict generated might incite the individual to produce meaning in his cognitive system and
in his interpretative process, i.e., operate a new richer - however more uncertain, observation via the
consideration of this divergent interpretation and a validation process (Paicheler & Moscovici, 1976)
likely to induce a change of attitudes toward it and make the semiotic process evolve.
The 'neutral¯ nature of the network (as part of the mastering of intelligence process) is fundamental
to optimize the development of knowledge toward the observed representamen (i.e., its interpretation)
by testing as many creative hypothesis as possible. The semiotic hacking can strongly optimize this
process, via its several core parts we have analyzed. The formulation and experiences/manipulations to
conhrm or inhrm the dinerent creative hypothesis thus does not have to suner from any discrimination
in the group or network in order to optimize the development of knowledge toward the observed
representamen. The well managed collective interpretation of the observed puzzling fact is thus likely
to favor the elaboration of several creative hypothesis (favored if disinhibited individuals used to
dealing emciently with cognitive connict). This collective observation, especially if operated on an
open and decentralized basis, can favor the observation process and the development of a rich
collective interpretation fed by the subjectivities of the dinerent individuals involved in this process
(favored if cognitive diversity).
Bernard Besson (2010) tells us about a very explicit anecdote about the importance of taking into
account the opinions and ideas of any individual without discrimination (i.e., regardless of their status
within the group), in order to optimize the abduction process and avoid false assumptions via the
emcient exploitation of the collective intelligence. A company which specialized in the manufacture of
yogurt tried to implement a new technique of lactation in order to produce a new navor. This process
failed every-time it was experimented. The leaders thus thought that the technique initially considered
as viable was actually not. A guard within the company, who was not involved in this industrial
process, then shared one of his personal observation : the lactation process was always operated at the
same time than a train passing nearby which provoked perceptible shocks. He thus formulated the
hypothesis that this train could have been the cause of the successive failures, and suggested to change
the schedule of the lactation process in order to determine if this event had or not an impact
(conhrmation of invalidation of this new creative hypothesis). The next test, respecting the ward's
advice based on his abduction was a success, demonstrating that the process was actually optimal and
that the true problem preventing the obtaining of the initially expected results was indeed the train and
not the process itself, as initially considered.
Specihc social norms such as search for creativity can also favor the cognitive connict among groups
via a disinhibited interpretation and public expression. In other words, it can optimize the potentiality
of innovation, as well as of serendipity and abduction (for developed collectively, considering the
potentially divergent interpretations of the observed puzzling fact). This optimized abduction is likely
to be conhrmed via an optimized induction (for encouraged unleashed observation via manipulation
and experimentation) and deduction, more likely to be reconsidered via a collective open-mindedness
favoring innovation through a well managed 'collective reading¯ and cognitive connict (Besson &
Possin, 2001).
Favorable social norms can also, as we analyzed earlier, favor the emergence of active minorities,
necessary to hght against the natural tendency to conformism likely to favor the individuals'
disinhibition and ability to express publicly their potentially divergent interpretations of the collectively
observed representamen. Active minorities defending divergent interpretations can thus be, if
encouraged to express themselves within the group(s) they evolve within, important parts of the
abduction process, by emphasizing divergent interpretations inciting the group to observe unexpected
puzzling facts they otherwise would have not observed and interpreted for various reasons such as the
ones we have emphasized. Minority innuence can thus favor, if optimized via conducive social
norms/context, the individuals' 'wave-like¯ observation or the cognitive restructuring toward
representamens initially observed as particles (with leashed virtual and crystallized attitudes).
The semiotic hacking can thus be used to favor the development of a social context favorable for the
'scientihc process¯ in the collective observation. The Free philosophy, based on unleashed collective
intelligence, via co-construction and sharing of knowledge on an open and decentralized basis and
without restriction can also be used to favor the exercise of freedom, via collective control over the
observed representamen and an unleashed observation involving the exploration of the limits of its
possibilities. The collective monitoring about the observed representamen (online and omine) is also
necessary in order to feed and keep the observation process updated, for it allows the individuals to be
aware of any new actualized versions/possibilities (e.g., whether of the same observed representamen
or remix of it to create brand new ones). This collective practice is particularly pertinent if the
observed representamen's nature is Free, i.e., designed to be freely enriched and extended.
5.#.:. 'bduction and representamen3s design
The representamen's design is fundamental to consider in the abduction process and more globally the
'scientihc observation¯, for it can whether favor these processes or weaken/prevent them, depending
on the observed representamen's creator(s)/rights holder(s)' intentions. The representamen's strategic
design to condition the individuals' interpretation can be based on a branding strategy, e.g., with the
presence of specihc sign-vehicles strategically integrated to weaken/condition this process, by favoring
the 'anective¯ and irrational relation to the observed representamen (more easily innuenced by
techniques such as evaluative conditioning) instead of the cognitive/rational one. The 'background
theory¯ can thus be strategically dehned to be rigid and 'dogmatic¯ in order to prevent the risk of
potential cognitive restructuring. This potential change can thus be triggered by the formulation of
new creative hypothesis/possible rule (abduction) toward the interpretation and explanation of the
representamen's design (i.e., renecting its creator(s)/rights holder(s)' intention toward the observers'
mental model(s)).
As we said, the Free/anti-rivalrous nature of the representamen can also be strategically exploited by
its creator to incite the individuals to be a full part of its development process, by actualizing without
restrictions new possibilities in order to enrich its reality. This e·oluti·e design based on an open and
decentralized development process makes the unexpected discoveries more probable, while the
'scientihc observation¯ process is made richer but also more complex. In fact, this design, especially if
a strong community is involved in the representamen's development process, makes the potentiality of
observation of new 'puzzling facts¯ higher. The expectation (via the deduction toward it) is thus way
more uncertain, for an innovation/unexpected actualization can happen anywhere at any time. The
representamen's observation thus requires, to be optimal, the practice of mastering of intelligence, and
an active monitoring about it to to keep it updated (as analyzed earlier). The respect of the individuals'
privacy (as core part of the Free and cypherpunk philosophies) by the observed representamen (e.g.,
no tracking feature, no forced identihcation,...) also favor the disinhibited observation as well as the
unexpected discoveries (serendipity) and the formation as well as experimental process in order to
conhrm or inhrm it.
The representamen's design also implies both an 'ideal¯ and a 'problematic¯ observer. The 'ideal
observer¯ is, as we have already analyzed, an individual whose cognitive and behavioral patterns
(constituting his experience with the observed representamen, e.g., via the navigation between the
actual and virtual poles) will match the representamen's design's model (i.e., its creator/rights
holder(s)' intentions). The concepts renect the representamen's author/rights holder(s)' intentions
toward their observers' interpretation. Here are several examples we have emphasized for each kind
of design :
- Ideal and problematic observer and abduction toward a closed/depriving representamen : The 'ideal
observer¯ will be, if the observed representamen's design is closed/depriving and 'deceptive¯, an
individual who does not try to conhrm or inhrm his creative hypothesis in case of observation of a
puzzling fact, for has too much internalized the representamen's omcial design and the illegal nature of
the manipulation and experimentation processes on it, i.e., 'mental DRMs¯ preventing him to conhrm
or inhrm his abduction. The 'problematic observer¯ will be an individual who bypasses the technical
and legal restrictions (choice of freedom, with inherent uncertainty and instability, i.e. cognitive
discomfort) in order to explore the observed representamen's possibilities and get a complete
understanding of its constitution and functioning (e.g., via the reverse-engineering practice). This
state-of-mind can allow to favor his 'scientihc observation¯ by overlooking the observed
representamen's inherent restrictions imposed by its creator(s)/rights holder(s) in order to prevent the
development of a rich, complex and accurate interpretation likely to compromise its strategic design
aiming at conditioning it;
- Ideal and problematic observer and abduction toward a Free representamen : The 'ideal observer¯
will be an individual whose curiosity is stimulated and who freely explores the observed
representamen's possibilities and fully exploits the collective intelligence of the community around it
in order to optimize the unexpected discoveries as well as the formulation of creative hypothesis and
its conhrmation or inhrmation via induction and deduction. The 'problematic observer¯ will be an
individual whose observation process is conditioned/weakened by his 'rigid¯ cognitive framework
colonized by law via the internalization of mental DRMs likely to favor his inhibition, even when
observing a Free (i.e., empowering) representamen.
The closed/depriving nature of a representamen can also stimulate the individual's suspicion, i.e., the
pure speculation impossible to be legally conhrmed or inhrmed. This speculation is likely to induce
uncertainty within his interpretative process, strengthened by his impossibility to make it certain
without the access to the observed representamen's constitution (e.g., in order to consider the presence
of malicious features conhrming his suspicion of 'deceptive by design¯ nature). The only way to
inhrm or conhrm is to acquire 'illegal¯ informations, via reverse-engineering or a leak of informations
from the representamen's private entity having designed it. Without concrete proofs conhrming the
initial suspicion/possible rule formulated to explain the observation of a 'puzzling fact¯ (e.g., the
automatic suppression of a digital hle on a silo), this abduction is likely to be interpreted as paranoia
by other individuals having been exposed to the observer's creative hypothesis.
?. Eranding strategies, intellectual property and their hacking
. Intellectual property as mean to control the indi*iduals3 mind
Nina Paley, artist and copyright activist, analyzes the concept of intellectual property in its
philosophical dehnition and states that this concept can also be applied to the individuals' mind. In an
article entitled Intellectual Propert, is Sla·er, (2009), she states that 'Everyone deserves [the] right to
translate one's rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results - in other words to freely
think, express, and own the contents of their own mind. That is what 'intellectual property¯ should
(but doesn't) mean : everyone's right to their own mind.¯
According to Lessig (2004), 'The
exceptions to free use are ideas and expressions within the reach of the law of patent and copyright
(...). Here the law says you can't take my idea or expression without my permission : The law turns the
intangible into property.¯
By analyzing the legal dehnition of intellectual property, Paley (2012) remarks that intellectual
property means exactly the opposite of the dehnition she gave :
It transfers ownership of the contents of your mind to others. It alienates the ideas in your mind,
from you. Is there a song running through your mind right now? It doesn't belong to you (...).
You are forbidden to express it; 'performance¯ requires permission. 'To think, to work¯ -
interpret - 'and keep the results¯ - record and sell copies of - the song in your mind, are illegal.
Thus Intellectual Property gives alien, private owners title to our minds. We may think culture
(songs, text, images) only in secret; any expressions of cultural thought belong not to the thinker,
but to the IP owner. Your thoughts are 'derivative works¯; someone else has title to them. You
may have 'Porgy and Bess¯ in your mind, but interpreting or singing it out loud is forbidden.
That part of your mind belongs to Gershwin's heirs and their lackeys. (.) Legally dehned
'Intellectual Property¯ is, quite simply, someone else's ownership of your mind. If they own the
right to express what lives in your mind, the right 'to think, to work and keep the results,¯ then
they own your mind; they own you. What can we call that, except slavery?¯
Ideas (i.e., intangible goods) are thus likely to be privatized and turned into depriving goods from a
legal point of view. This usually anti-rivalrous resource, as well-dehned by Thomas Jenerson
, can
thus be controlled by laws based on intellectual properties. This poses a serious problem for the
semiotic process, whose ideas (as both interpretamen and interpretant) triggered by the observation of
representamens can thus be 'owned¯ by private entities and colonize the individuals' mind (as we will
analyze further in this work).
According to John Perry Barlow, co-founder and vice chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
"human creativity, like its species of origin, arises from the processes of nature. Like the rest of
nature, all ideas are part of a seamless whole, a commons. If, in our greed, we chop the ecosystem of
Mind into unconnected pieces, we will despoil it just as we are destroying the rest of our environment.
Trying to own thought exclusively is as dangerous, selhsh, and shortsighted as trying to own oxygen.
We might enrich ourselves but asphyxiate our descendents.¯
Intellectual property, and especially its abusive exercise, is thus likely to allow rights holders to
exercise a control over the individuals' thoughts. It is thus fundamental to consider this major issue of
our societies in the analysis of the semiotic process. The individuals' mental alienation to Law can be
favored by the internalization of 'mental DRMs¯ and 'cognitive silos¯ leashing their creativity via the
conditioning of their interpretative, renexive and behavioral processes.
Let's thus consider several individuals' interpretation of the Mad Hatter character :
- The hrst one is 'branded¯ by Disney and has not read the original book by Lewis Carroll (i.e. has not
developed his personal interpretation from the text or interpreted the expressed character in the
drawing included in the book, in the public domain). His interpretation (i.e. mental representations)
will thus be fed by the 'privatized¯ dimension of his mind, and likely to match with the Disney's
expected mental model (toward his intellectual property). This individual might thus, for example,
interpret the character with the Disney's copyrighted design.
- The second one is 'branded¯ by Disney and fond of their cinematographic adaptations. He has
however read Carroll's original book but prefers the Disney versions. He is thus more likely to develop
an interpretation based on the Disney's copyrighted adaptation(s) of this character,, i.e. choice of
compliance toward a depriving mental thought-sign (perceived as more attractive, can be optimized
with a strong branding strategy) instead of a Free/common one giving him control over his mind;
- The third one is a big fan of Carroll's original book and has not seen any of the Disney. His mind can
thus be considered as 'freer¯ than the two hrst ones concerning this hctional character;
- The last one has only read an HTML version of Carrol's book (derivative work) without the original
illustrations. His only representation of the character is thus only made of his own interpretation of the
character described in the book (purely personal/subjective). His only interpretation will thus be fed
by his 'personal¯ interpretation he has full control over.
165 'He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at
mine, receives light without darkening me.¯
.. ,ental !A,s, cogniti*e silos and their e@ects on the creati*e process
... ,ental !A,s
The 'mental DRM¯ concept has been emphasized by Lionel Maurel (2011), librarian and member of
the collectives SavoirsCom1 and La Quadrature du Net, which aim at defending the individuals'
freedoms in our digital society. According to him, mental DRM is Law's true goal : model the
imaginary to prevent the individuals to consider alternatives. Its main goal is to make the individuals
internalize the legal prescriptions toward copyrighted contents. It thus constitutes a 'cognitive tool of
control¯ over the minds restricting the thought process, just like DRMs are technical tools of control
restricting users' experience with a digital program. Paley (2014) refers to 'inner censors¯ to qualify
these mental restrictions accepted by the individuals denying their own 'mental sovereignty.¯
The internalization phenomenon implied by the mental DRMs means that the individuals make their
own the copyright policies' rigid and depriving system of values. For example, they can hrmly believe
in the legitimacy of depriving licenses to protect cultural works and paradigms such as art as
commercial product and property requiring to be strongly protected against violations (i.e., 'all rights
reserved¯ paradigm). The internalization of these mental restrictions (e.g., turned into core personal
values) thus aim at shaping and conditioning the individuals' cognitive framework as well as their
behaviors based on legal considerations such as the copying of a copyrighted work or the creation of a
brand new one inspired by copyrighted ones (e.g., derivative work). Fourmeux (2013), librarian also
engaged in the collective SavoirsCom1 emphasizes a personal experience he had within libraries :
"Some professionals impose themselves mental DRMs. They thus censor themselves, are reluctant to
implement projects because they perceive them as illegal, because it does not match their ethics of
librarian. The Copy Party
was a glaring example, where I could talk with professionals who do not
admit that users can make personal copies, with their own material, documents that are available at the
Maurel's analysis emphasizing the fact that mental DRMs can prevent the individual's from
considering other alternatives can make us consider these internalized restrictions as new cognitive
biases threatening the emciency of the observation and interpretation processes (i.e., the semiotic
one), via for example the too much important focus of the attention on the observed works' legal
dimension instead of their intrinsic qualities. In other words, mental DRMs can induce a
monopolization of the individuals' cognitive resources and favor their cognitive alienation via the
leashing/weakening of their creative thought over copyrighted works, such as criticism via the
development of new original ideas and the creation of brand new works based on them. Paley(2012)
thus talks about her past conditioned personal experience as an artist : 'It made me crazy as an artist
as I was looking at legal licenses instead of looking at art¯.
We will consider that the highest degree of mental conditioning via mental DRMs is when the
individual operates a 'thought suppression¯. According to Wegner (1989), thought suppression is the
166 Events organized in order to promote the right to copy copyrighted contents within libraries, for private uses.
process of deliberately trying to stop thinking about certain thoughts. It is often associated with
obsessive-compulsive disorder, in which a sunerer will repeatedly (usually unsuccessfully) attempt to
prevent or "neutralize" intrusive distressing thoughts centered around one or more obsessions. It is also
related to work on memory inhibition.
Crimestop, as dehned by Orwell (1949) in his novel 1984 is also a clear example of dangerous mental
conditioning likely to be internalized by individuals. This is the dehnition he gives of this
practice :'Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any
dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors,
of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or
repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in
short, means protective stupidity.¯ Crimestop is practiced by the population of Oceania in Orwell's
dystopian story. Thoughtcrime is also a key concept in Orwell's authoritarian Party. It can be dehned
as an occurrence or instance of controversial or socially unacceptable thoughts. The term is also used
to describe some theological concepts such as disbelief or idolatry (Lewis, 2000) or a rejection of
strong social or philosophical principles (Glasby, 2011).
These two dystopian concepts share similarities with the mental DRM one. Thus, mental DRMs aim
at making the individuals internalize legal restrictions on their thoughts in order to model and shape
(i.e., control through the legitimized intellectual property concept) their own cognitive system. The
concepts of illegality and property applied to the individuals' mind thus inherently induce the concept
of 'illegal thought¯, whose detection and potential 'suppression¯ can be favored by the individuals'
self-censorship. Thus, the individual's choice to not express, for fear of legal sanction, a specihc idea
(e.g., by creating a work) which he perceives as illegal, prevents other individuals to observe it, gets
inspired by it, and potentially enrich it via new original ones. The idea's value and meaning, developed
by its cognitive treatment (via individual and collective interpretation) and expression (i.e., lifecycle
according to our previous analysis), thus risks to be strongly threatened and impoverished due to this
mental conditioning.
However, Maurel (2012) emphasizes that the digital world's intrinsic characteristics, favoring as we
said the acts of copying, sharing and remixing, makes the mental DRMs less emcient to incite the
individuals to self-regulate (i.e., self-censor) toward copyrighted contents. The cultural industries have
thus decided to intensify their legal repression policy in order to threaten the individuals and try to
earn back control over their thoughts and behaviors. Their legal strategy thus shifted from
internalization to compliance toward legal prescriptions for fear of legal sanction from powerful rights
holders exercising aggressive strategies to protect their intellectual properties. Inspired by Ertzscheid's
dehnition of DRMs, we will consider that mental DRMs also induce the individual's sunering of social
innuences weakening his creative thought and inducing a leashed/conditioned virtual pole of the
relation to copyrighted contents. We will moreover transpose Maurel's Lav is code paradigm we have
analyzed earlier from a digital system to the individual's cognitive one. Mental DRMs thus aim at
regulating the individuals' behaviors (main goal of a DRM) via the internalization of restriction (i.e.,
deprivation) toward legally depriving content. They can be favored by the individuals' fear to be
monitored and sanctioned (e.g.,via censorship, legal sanction,...) inducing a choice of cognitive
comfort and certainty (i.e., commodity) over freedom, and its inherent uncertainty and risk
Mental DRMs thus induce self-censorship likely to prevent :
- The production of specihc behaviors such as copying and sharing copyrighted material (for
considered as illegal and fear of sanction);
- The production of specihc ideas (thought suppression such as in Orwell's 1984, based on 'thought-
- The expression of certain ideas : Via the creation of new works based on copyrighted (i.e.,
depriving) works,...
Mental DRMs can thus strongly weaken the creative process (based on disinhibited observation,
interpretation and expression) via the conditioning/impoverishing of both the reading and the writing
cultures. They can also be pretty enective, as we will see, to protect a brand against genericide and
exercise a control over the individuals in their relation to it. Let's analyze the major issue mental
DRMs constitute for the creative process.
..#. Cogniti*e silos
Based on the dehnition of the silo as 'walled garden¯, we will emphasize that cognitive silos constitute
'cognitive enclosures¯ or 'partitioning¯ between several connicting thoughts/ideas (i.e., as perceived
and interpreted) induced by an individual's internalization of their connictive natures determined by
their respective rights holders. As silos are based on the exercise of control over individuals by private
entities via the choice of commodity (with attractive closed/depriving environments) over freedom, we
will consider that cognitive silos are based on the individual's cognitive alienation to certain and
comfortable (i.e., convenient) semiotic relations (with inherent cognitive relations to the generated
ideas) and specihc cognitive patterns.
Cognitive silos play a fundamental part in branding strategies, for they aim at shaping and conditioning
the semiotic process in the observation of specihc representamens, via the absorption of key-concepts
by proprietary virtual entities such as brands (as we will analyze further in this work). The individuals'
internalization of the 'war of design¯ (FAT, 2012) between competitive thought-signs (based on the
privatization of ideas we have analyzed) thus induce a cognitive partitioning, with an impossibility to
develop simultaneous 'competitive thoughts¯ (as dehned by their respective 'rights holders¯), within
the semiotic process. Its main characteristics are thus :
- The individual's cognitive alienation to certain, stable and depriving semiotic relations comforted by
rigid and familiar cognitive patterns (i.e., conditioning/preventing his V - A dynamic necessary to
actualize new meaningful semiotic relations);
- The lack of interoperability between the actualized semiotic relations : With discrimination between
the thought-signs (interpretamen and interpretant, htting the observed representamens' design's
model). The connicting/discriminating semiotic relations are thus based on Whether...or...
conhgurations, preventing their connection or merger necessary to generate original ideas.
Cognitive silos can thus induce a conscious or unconscious discrimination, via the individual's
internalization of the connict and competition between dinerent ideas (with domination of one over
the other(s)). The individuals can overlook specihc ideas likely to disrupt their cognitive
comfort/stability induced by, for example, their positive cognitive relation with another one (e.g.,
relation to a strong distinctive brand). They thus aim at making the individuals generate rigid, leashed
and distinctive ideas, whose 'meaning¯ can only be perceived if considered isolated from other
'connicting¯ ones (with inherent discrimination). In other words, the individuals having internalized
cognitive silos can generate whether a particle-like observation/interpretation with no simultaneous
thoughts, or a leashed wave-like one with no possibility to be enriched. Cognitive silos thus fully
exploit the necessity for the individuals to focus on 'located¯ ideas in order to optimize their cognitive
Cognitive silos aim at conditioning the following dimensions of the semiotic process :
- Direct thoughts : Direct triggered interpretamen and interpretant when observe a representamen
(with specihc sign-vehicle). Can be favored by the individual's internalization of mental DRMs
inducing a focus on the representamen's legal dimension;
- Simultaneous thoughts : Particle-like or leashed wave-like semiotic process with no virtualization
process necessary, via the V - A dynamic, to make new original connections between dinerent ideas
and actualize new meaningful semiotic relations;
- Sequential thoughts : Frozen or 'enclosed¯ semiotic process, via the generation of whether a hnal
logical interpretant or a 'closed semiotic loop¯.
They thus aim at conditioning the observation and interpretation of specihc representamens (via a
familiar 'particle-like¯ observation or a leashed wave-like one, which does not consider other
interpretative possibilities than the ones usually considered (htting the observed representamen's
design's model). The individual's virtual pole of the relation to the observed representamen is thus
conditioned to be leashed in order the creative thought, necessary to exercise freedom over it, to
The mental conditioning will be operated at two levels :
- Alienation to the observed closed/depriving representamen's design's model favoring the
crystallization of attitudes toward it;
- Cognitive discrimination between 'competitive¯ ideas induced by the hrst phenomenon. For
example, similar ideas (e.g., key-concepts such as freedom or entertainment) can be 'absorbed¯ by
dinerent competitive brands (we will analyze this issue later).
Semiotic loops and the freezing of the semiotic process are thus likely to leash it and weaken the
chances of innovation requiring a cognitive connict/uncertainty and restructuring via the V - A
167 We will analyze this concept later.
We will refer to the 'semiotic categorization¯ to qualify the individuals' natural categorization process
involved in their interpretation of observed representamens in order to facilitate their production of
meaning considering their limited cognitive resources and their inherent cognitive biases. The semiotic
categorization can thus, like the social categorization, induce :
- A cognitive favoring toward the appreciated ideas whose attitudes about it are crystallized;
- A discrimination over other ones not appreciated or likely to threaten the hrst idea's integrity (e.g.,
brand values).
The individual's strong cognitive relation to an object (e.g., a brand) can favor the natural development
of a self-categorization (e.g., as member of a brand's community) with inherent endogroup favoring
and exogroup discrimination based on prejudices. Rigid and crystallized attitudes (i.e., particle-like
interpretation) can also prevent the simultaneous thinking about several 'connicting¯ ideas and induce
both a simultaneous and a sequential discrimination (via not consideration of other competitive
thought-signs likely to disrupt the familiar and comfortable semiotic process).
Mental DRMs and cognitive silos thus constitute major threats for the individuals' exercise of
creativity, by favoring the colonization of their mind by intellectual property. Let's now analyze how
these 'cognitive tools of power¯ over the individuals can weaken or 'cut-on¯ the creative process.
..%. The cutting0o@ the creati*e process
The creative process requires, to be optimal, the individual' empowerment via a legal read - write
culture (Lessig, 2008) as well as a collective nuid and neutral 'informational now¯ according to Paley
Paley emphasizes that being open to culture is necessary for it to stay alive. This analysis is similar to
the work's lifestyle paradigm we have developed earlier. She thus states that every individual is an
information portal : information enters through senses, like ears and eyes, and exits through
expressions like voice, drawing, writing or movements. It is thus fundamental, for culture to stay alive,
to be open or permeable. She bases this analysis on the dehnition of permeance given by Wikipedia,
i.e., 'the degree to which a material admits a now of matter or energy : ¯ We are the material through
which information nows. It's through this now that culture stays alive and we stay connected to each
other. Ideas now in, and they now out, of each of us. Ideas change a little as they go along; this is
known as evolution, progress, or innovation.¯ The creative now requires, according to Paley's
paradigm, a disinhibited collective 'in¯ and 'out¯ processes. The 'in¯ process constitutes the phase of
observation and interpretation of cultural works, and the 'out¯ constitutes its expression on a formal or
informal basis, in a physical or digital form and via its sharing, copying or remixing. The culture's
lifestyle will thus be optimized by its collective, open, decentralized and disinhibited 'disruption¯
(BNF, 2014) via remixes and mashups. Assange (2014) emphasizes that information now is not a
neutral phenomenon : it is related to the movement of power through a society. In other words, we will
presume that the more universal
and nuid (via a collective open and decentralized dinusion process)
or indirect control, the more equitable the power within the society and the higher the chance of
However, as we analyzed earlier, legal policies are getting more and more aggressive to dissuade
potential creators to exercise their creative freedom toward copyrighted materials. The individuals are
thus getting more and more conditioned and leashed in their creativity, whether through internalization
or simple compliance to abusive control over depriving intellectual properties. Mental DRMs and
cognitive silos are thus likely to strongly leash/weaken the individuals' permeance to copyrighted
Discrimination in the permeance ('in¯ and 'out¯ processes) can leash and weaken the observation and
interpretation of artistic works via the focus on law and not on art. According to Paley (2014),
'Internal censorship is the enemy of creativity; it halts expression before it can begin. The question,
'am I allowed to use this?¯ indicates the asker has surrendered internal authority to lawyers,
legislators, and corporations. Whenever we censor our expression, we close a little more and
information nows a little less.¯ Copyright thus 'cuts on the creative process according to Seemel,
2013) by preventing, via compliance to the permissive culture the expression and sharing, whether as
the same work observed and interpreted or as a new remixed version.
The creative process thus requires to be optimal :
- The empowerment of the individuals involved in the process : Legal, cognitive and technical
dimensions (e.g., via net universality and same potentiality of access and participation);
- The neutrality of the informational now (via individual and collective permeance) to optimize the
creative process. Requires a disinhibited 'in¯ and 'out¯ processes, with a removal of mental DRMs
and cognitive silos;
- The individuals' focus on the observed works' artistic dimension instead of the legal one in order to
optimize their cognitive treatment via a stimulated creative thought.
We will explicitly refer to 'neutrality¯ and 'universality¯ in the informational now, in order to focus
both on the necessary same potentiality of access and participation in the creative process, and the
absence of discrimination between 'integrated¯, treated (via favored original connections stimulating
the creative thought) and expressed ideas. These concepts are thus fundamental for the free now of
ideas, just like the net neutrality is. As Yancey Strickler (2014), chief executive and co-founder of
Kickstarter, 'Allowing paid priority access and content discrimination would threaten the free
exchange of ideas that takes place online, between people from all around the world, every second of
every day. That free exchange is key to what makes the Internet such a powerful force.¯
Mental DRMs and cognitive silos can induce, as we said, an internalization of both the censorship
toward 'in¯ and 'out¯ processes, and also of the rigid interpretative rules based on the discrimination
168 Acording to Zimmermann's paradigm.
of other competitive ones (we will analyze this issue in detail further). They can also induce a
voluntary degradation of copyrighted works in order to preserve the copying and sharing processes as
part of the informational now. Here is a clear example
of voluntary alteration of the content in order
to avoid legal sanction, read on Youtube :
'Katy Perry - "Dark Horse" (Lyrics On Screen) 720pHD
RNBLyric tt s 7i changed the voice
cause the copyright¯
Here is another example emphasizing the possible interpretation of a degraded copyrighted content,
based on legal assumptions :
Denis-Carl Robidoux I can give a reason why I clicked on 'dislike¯ : the really bad resolution of
your videos which indicates really clearly that you do not own this work's rights.
Based on Paley's informational now paradigm, we will consider that the 'wave¯ (constituted by the
exchanged, integrated and expressed ideas) is carried through a medium, composed by the dinerent
individuals involved in the process. According to The Physics Classroom, a wave can be described as a
disturbance that travels through a medium from one location to another location. The news media is
merely the thing that carries the news from its source to various locations. In a similar manner, a wave
medium is the substance that carries a wave (or disturbance) from one location to another. The wave
medium merely carries or transports the wave from its source to other locations. In other words, the
medium is composed of parts that are capable of interacting with each other.
Interaction thus
constitutes the main source of stimulation for the informational now. Its optimization requires a
collective disinhibition and unrestricted 'in¯ and 'out¯ processes similar to the datalove philosophy
(with the 'love for the free now of ideas¯ collectively shared and enriched without any restriction).
These individuals composing the medium thus contribute to spread the expressed ideas and have, at
the individual or collective scale, the power to :
- Increase the carried wave's momentum : Via the V - A dynamic and its enriching with new
- Decrease the carried wave's momentum : Via its impoverishing, e.g., via a leashed virtual pole of
observed works;
- Turn it into a particle : Via the choice of observation based on a rigid and connicting interpretation
with other ideas or the 'enclosure¯ of a common good via the creation of a brand new depriving one
with, for example, the use of a depriving license allowing its legal sharing but not modihcation like the
CC BY NC ND. The shift of the good's nature can thus be favored by the impoverishing of its
'virtualizing nature¯;
169 We will emphasize that this content has now been removed, without any clear indications. We will thus consider three
possible scenari : the content has been censored by the song's rights holders, censored automatically by the 'robocopyright"
or removed by the uploader without any request from them (i.e., self-censorship).
- Stop it : Via its retention or privatization by the exercise of an abusive legal control over it preventing
other individuals to legally 'integrate¯ it in their creative process and create brand new expressions
from it (Paley and Seemel's analysis).
Some 'artivists¯
defend a new vision of art and intellectual property based on the public's
empowerment in order to stimulate creativity. For example, Gwenn Seemel emphasizes a true
ideological connict between the 'art as property¯ and the 'art as connection¯ paradigms. According to
her, art has to get rid of copyright in order to be truly 'valued¯ as it. The authors thus have to stop
exercising a total control over their work and give up power over them in order to empower the public
and, by extension, empower their work via the creation of communities around them. This cultural
paradigm hts the EFF's one we have already analyzed
as well as the informational now paradigm.
The connection between individuals through art and its inherent re-appropriation via remixes favoring
the links between them is thus necessary to optimize the medium and, by extension, the 'wave's
transportation and dinusion.
Seemel adds that the authors' will to exercise an abusive control over their work renects a lack of trust
and self-conhdence in their ability to create truly personal (i.e., easily identihable) works. Instead, the
authors have to stop being afraid of imitation (which is at the core of human culture since its very
) and confusion in the individuals' mind, i.e., toward their ability to distinguish their own
personality (renected in their art) from those of other creators. This emphasizes an interesting point
for our semiotic analysis, for many authors' will, through the use of a depriving legal license, is to be
clearly identihed as the authors of their work, i.e., be related by the public (object) when observe their
work (representamen). Remixes can thus threaten this clear identihcation/semiotic relation (legally
dehned as 'moral right¯), via the blurring between their works and other ones potentially 'absorbing¯
them in the public's mind.
As we said, mental DRMs are likely to induce a monopolization of the attention (i.e., of the cognitive
resources necessary to stimulate the creative thought) by the observed works' legal nature. The
individual aware of the copyrighted nature of an observed work and of its author's aggressive legal
policy (based on experience and information/knowledge about it) might thus be more likely to develop
a clear interpretation about the work's design's model, instead of speculating about its authorship and
intended interpretation (e.g., via the speculation about a potential imitation as dehned by Doctorow,
2013). His clear identihcation of the work's authorship based on the interpretation of its depriving
legal license and the usually aggressive legal policy exploited by its author to protect it against
'violation¯ can thus favor a clearer interpretation of the work's design's model than the one developed
by another individual who does not possess this knowledge.
The work's copyrighted nature, with its inherent depriving 'all rights reserved¯ terms, can be stated :
- Explicitly : The author adds a specihc conventional sign such as the 'c¯ on his work; or
172 Portmanteau composed of the 'artist¯ and 'activist¯ words.
173 'By giving up power over our art, our art has more power¯.
174 'Everything is a remix¯ paradigm according to Lessig (2008) and Seemel (2013).
- Implicitly : A work is considered as copyrighted by default unless the author explicitly chooses
another more permissive legal license.
According to Seemel (2013), the copyright placed by an author next to his work means that the public
observing it needs to ask its author's permission for anything else but look at it. It is thus a clear
statement from the author to his audience saying : 'Don't do anything with my work without asking
permission.¯ The legal license can thus be interpreted as a clear message from the author to his
audience. This statement can be formalized by the integration of a personal message from the author
placed next or on his work. David Hockney is a good example of clearly dehned intention toward his
audience. Here is the message that can be found when we enter his website (presented by the author as
'the only authorized David Hockney website¯) :
Stop. This site and contents are copyright David Hockney and may not be reproduced anywhere
at any time in any form. Reproduction from photographic materials of David Hockney images
not supplied by David Hockney, Inc., is strictly prohibited.
Aggressive legal strategies (e.g., via legal bullying practice) can thus be used by authors/rights holders
to protect their work's 'distinctiveness¯ (as interpretation by the public) via the incitement of the
individuals to focus their attention on copyrighted signs when observe their works. These strategies
can thus favor an observation and interpretation as legisign (i.e., semiotic relation based on thirdness
level) and the particle-like observation. The 'big c¯, as Seemel refers to the copyright symbol placed
on a copyrighted work to indicate its legal nature to the public, can thus be voluntarily used by
authors/rights holders to leash their public's observation and interpretation processes, by 'scaring¯
them in order to prevent them from exploiting this work for the creation of brand new pieces.
However, the 'all rights reserved¯ legal nature can induce possible misinterpretations from the public
paying attention to it in the observation of copyrighted works.
..+. The possible misinterpretations
Possible misinterpretations toward observed works' design's model renected in their legal licenses can
thus potentially disrupt the semiotic process, via the development of false assumptions toward the
author's intentions (e.g., the development of a prejudiced categorization process inducing a
discriminizing cognitive treatment). Here are several possible misinterpretations likely to disrupt the
interpretation of a closed/depriving work.
- The public observing a copyrighted work can confound the author's will (intentions and expectations)
and his work's rights holders (detaining the patrimonial rights over it). As the FSF emphasizes it, the
author and the rights holder might not be the same : 'The term 'creator" is used by publishers to
elevate authors' moral standing above that of ordinary people in order to justify giving them increased
copyright power, which the publishers can then exercise in their name. We recommend saying
'author¯ instead. However, in many cases 'copyright holder¯ is what you really mean. These two terms
are not equivalent: often the copyright holder is not the author.¯ The potential negative cognitive
relation to a related specihc author (object), with a misinterpreted will toward his work (interpretant)
can innuence the perception and interpretation of the observed work (interpretamen). The observer
interpreting the strong and aggressive copyright policy applied on a work as standing for a specihc
author might thus misinterpret the author's will (intentions and expectations toward his work and his
audience. This author might thus have 'sold¯ his patrimonial rights on the work to some third-parties,
who are the ones who exercise a legal control over the work. Their intentions might not renect the
- The public can misinterpret the author's will toward the control over his work : For example, the
copyright license can be interpreted as a will from the author to exercise a total control, whereas it
simply renects his unawareness about the consequences of the chosen rigid depriving terms restricting
the uses of his work, as well as an unawareness of alternatives best htting his will. Seemel (2013) thus
states that 'Most artists do not actually agree with copyright. They think they do, but they do not
believe in copyright in its entirety. They also agree with specihc terms of the depriving license, which
can be found in Creative Commons licenses which allow the users to beneht for more freedom over
the work.
Using Creative Commons licenses thus allows the author to tell his audience what he needs
from them instead of scaring them away with the 'big C¯, whereas that is not even what he wants.¯
For example, a librist (fully aware of the copyright true legal nature and its consequences on creativity)
can interpret a copyrighted work as a will for its author to freeze the informational now, i.e., the
creative process and deprive him of any right over it. This interpretation can thus be false, for the
author actually wanted to share his work and empower his audience but was just simply not aware of
the existence of legal licenses explicitly granting the freedoms necessary for the public to exercise
creativity over his work;
- The misinterpretation of the observed work's closed/depriving format : Let's consider this same
librist who observes a work built on a closed/depriving format preventing its reading on any device
(i.e., discrimination such as the Flash format which can not be read on completely Free digital
environments). He can thus interpret it as a conscious strategic choice of the author to create a
discriminating work, or which requires to be observed to comply to private entities' requests of control
over the individuals via the installation of closed/depriving programs. The true reason can thus be that
the author was not aware of this possible discrimination as well as the existence of Free alternatives
(e.g. HTML5 or WebM). A clear example is the No es una crisis documentary we have analyzed
earlier whose authors, however having chosen a copyleft license for their work, were not aware of its
intrinsic discriminating nature induced by its closed/depriving format;
- The misunderstanding of the copyright legal nature by the public : Likely to be exploited by rights
holders to exercise an abusive control over their work. Lessig (2008) emphasizes the fact that contents
have to be creative in order to be legally protected, i.e., controlled : 'Facts on their own are not
'creative.¯ As the Supreme Court has said, 'The sine qua non of copyright is originality. To qualify for
copyright protection, a work must be original to the author. . . . But facts do not owe their origin to an
act of authorship. The distinction is one between creation and discovery.¯ Thus, only 'creativity¯ does
entitle someone to a copyright, and facts remain a resource that- constitutionally-cannot be subject
to a system of legal control.
The public thus benehts from the 'fair use¯, which grants them certain freedoms over copyrighted
works, such as the right to quote or parody. The public unaware of their rights toward copyrighted
works can thus easily comply to abusive requests from rights holders exploiting it. As Seemel states,
'When the artist says that we may not reproduce his content 'anywhere at anytime in any form¯ he is
lying. He is also throwing the authority of his fame and his money behind the lie. Under copyright law,
we can reproduce his images and words (.), in order to comment on them. This follows from the fair
use limitation on copyright.¯
Moreover, some rights holders can exploit the public's unawareness toward the 'common¯ nature of
specihc works (e.g., in the public domain) in order to exercise an illegal (but not sanctioned) control
over them, also known as 'copyfraud¯. Copyfraud can be used, as we analyzed earlier, by private
entities to illegally exercise legal bullying and censorship.
Finally, Paley emphasizes the fact that even permissive legal licenses can weaken the creative process
and the informational now, by overloading the individuals' cognitive framework and favoring
confusion in their interpretation process focusing on the legal dimension of observed works. They can
also induce possible misinterpretations. For example, the 'CC¯ symbol placed on a work to clarify its
legal license can be misinterpreted on its degree of permissiveness. Thus, an individual observing a
work with the 'CC¯ symbol placed on it can interpret it as the author's choice to allow him to freely
remix and share his work, as well as making proht from it (CC BY SA), whereas the author had
chosen a CC BY NC license, forbidding the commercial use of his work. The simple 'CC¯ symbol
can thus induce some vagueness and confusion in the interpretation process as well as the production
of illegal behaviors based on a simple misinterpretation.
Copyright, and more globally intellectual property, can thus strongly weaken or 'cut-on¯ the creative
process if rights holders exercise an abusive control over their own 'remixes¯. As Lessig (2008) and
Maurel (2013) emphasize, some corporations like Disney have built their fortune on the 'common
pool¯, by adapting works in the public domain to create brand new fully copyrighted adaptations.
However, these corporations do not give back to the pool where they found their inspirations in order
to feed the collective creativity. These practices can induce important damages, via a privatization of
the commons through their absorption by copyrighted works benehting for an important visibility and
popularity (i.e., colonizing the individuals' imaginary and 'popular subconscious¯). Mental DRMs and
cognitive silos can play a huge part in the individual's alienation to rigid competitive interpretative
rules dehned by competitive private entities exploiting the individuals' natural cognitive biases to
exercise a control over his interpretative process. A creative semiotic process thus requires for the
individuals to develop an awareness toward these two major issues and remove them in order to
'unlock¯ their creative thought. Facing the major issue constituted by these tools of power, Paley
(2014) has decided, in order to earn back sovereignty over her mind, to 'hack¯ copyright via the
creation of pretty inventive means we will analyze later.
#. Eranding strategies and means to hack them
#.. The branded semiotic process
#. .. !e>nition of a brand
According to Jean-Noel Kapferer, expert in communication and specialist of brands, 'A brand is not a
product : it is the product's source, its meaning, and its direction, and dehnes its identity in time and
space.¯ For Marty Neumeier (author, designer, and business adviser), 'A brand is a person's gut
feeling about a product, service, or company.¯ Finally, Allen P. Adamson, leading expert in
marketing, states that 'A brand is something that lives in your head. It's a promise that links a product
or service to a consumer. Whether words, or images, or emotions, or any combination of the three,
brands are mental associations that get stirred up when you think about or hear about a particular car
or camera, watch, pair of jeans, bank, beverage, TV network, organization, celebrity, or even
Naomi Klein (2000) analyzes in her book No logo the 'brand, not product¯ economic paradigm that
emerged in the 90's and that constitute the core of our current competitive economy. She thus
emphasizes that corporations' core value does not reside in their manufactured products or services
(whether physical or digital), but in the attractiveness and distinctiveness of their brands as virtual
entity perceived and interpreted by their customers. She thus states that 'What made early branding
enorts dinerent from more straightforward salesmanship was that the market was now being nooded
with uniform mass-produced products that were virtually indistinguishable from one another.
Competitive branding became a necessity of the machine age - within a context of manufactured
sameness; image-based dinerence had to be manufactured along with the product.¯ According to Phil
Knight (former CEO of Nike), "There is no value in making things any more. The value is added by
careful research, by innovation and by marketing.¯
The concept of brand thus hts perfectly the semiotic process, for it is based on the individuals' mental
associations when observe specihc branded representamens. The relation between an observed
branded product sharing generic and standardized intrinsic qualities (representamen) and a distinctive
attractive brand (object the individual appreciates and is committed to) constitutes one of the brand's
core value. This relation can be favored if the individual possesses crystallized attitudes about it,
developed for example via a strong commitment and free compliance to the brand's interpretative
rules. Stephen King (WPP Group) emphasizes that'A product is something that is made in a factory, a
brand is something that is bought by a customer. A product can be copied by a competitor, a brand is
unique. A product can be quickly outdated, a successful brand is timeless¯. This analysis highlights
several key-points. The hrst one is the necessity of strong anective and conative attitudinal dimensions
for the individuals in relation to brands and observed branded products (whose mental association is
the base of the 'branded semiotic process¯. The second one is the unique nature of a brand, which
makes it a rivalrous resource, as we will analyze later.
According to Kevin A. Clark (2004), 'Brands are a shortcut for people. They are known quantities so
people don't have to go through an assessment every time they select something. Successful cultures
and societies project the same ethos - you know who we are and what you can expect from us.
Cultures organize around pivotal principles of core values, just as enduring brands do. Shared values
are at the root of why brands work.¯ A brand thus has to be a clearly dehned identity (i.e., easily
recognizable) with strong values linked to it likely to favor a strong positive anective relation, as well
as a process of identihcation to it.
We will thus consider brands as 'cognitive shortcuts¯, for they favor the individuals' quick and easy
development of knowledge, expectations (i.e., virtual pole of the objectal relation) and decisions
(Beckwith, 2012). They prevent (we will presume strategically) the individual's need to manipulate the
observed branded product in order to develop a familiarity, knowledge and trust toward it, via his
interaction with it thanks to the development of blindly trusted relations. The virtual pole of the
individual's relation to the observed branded representamen, and more specihcally his expectations
and predictions about it, is thus important to consider in our analysis for, as Seth Godin (marketer and
public speaker) emphasizes, a brand equals the prediction of what to expect multiplied by the
emotional power of that expectation.
#..#. Eranding strategies
Klein (2000) analyzes the branding strategy : 'It's helpful to go back brieny and look at where the idea
of branding hrst began. Though the words are often used interchangeably, branding and advertising is
not the same process. Advertising any given product is only one part of branding's grand plan, as are
sponsorship and logo licensing. Think of the brand as the core meaning of the modern corporation,
and of the advertisement as one vehicle used to convey that meaning to the world.¯ In other words,
brands are about "meaning" and not product attribute.¯ Roy H. Williams, in Magical Worlds oJ the
Wizard oJ Ads, states that'Branding is simply attaching something to your name. A brand is the sum
total of all the mental associations, good and bad, that are triggered by a name.¯ Klein adds that
branding is not just a matter of adding value to a product, but is about thirstily soaking up cultural
ideas and iconography that their brands can renect by projecting these ideas and images back on the
culture as "extensions" of their brands : 'This ambitious project makes the logo the central focus of
everything it touches - not an add-on or a happy association, but the main attraction. Advertising and
sponsorship have always been about using imagery to equate products with positive cultural or social
Based on this dehnition we will consider that a brand is an immaterial entity composed of a wide held
of 'extensions¯ strategically 'absorbed¯ in order to increase its attractiveness and inner meaning, and
that branding strategies are all about shaping, conditioning and controlling the semiotic process
triggered by individuals toward branded representamens.
The logo and the design constitute the brand's visual identity. They are thus inherently based on
specihc codes such as colors, typography or shapes, designed to trigger (when observed) specihc ideas
absorbed by the brand
. A 'branded sign¯ is thus designed to be interpreted as rigid legisign
1$$ httpsC))
conventionally related to a clear, certain and meaningful object constituted by the strong and attractive
brand. Their rights holders' goal is to develop strong and attractive semiotic relations between them
and the brand, in order to favor the leashed/conditioned observation of branded products with the
focus on them (thirdness level of interpretation) instead of on the product's intrinsic qualities
(hrstness). Logos and branded designs can evolve through time, for example to adapt to cultural
changes (with new heavy tendencies such as new ecological preoccupations).
The brand is thus
represented within both the physical and the digital world by its 'tools of power¯ (trademarked logos,
patented design....), i.e., legally framed sign-vehicles favoring the observation and interpretation of the
observed representamen as legisign (semiotic process conditioned by the representamen's branded
nature) standing for an identity and a property (closed/depriving via trademark and patent aggressive
policy we will analyze later).
These signs can thus be qualihed as the brand's 'tools of power¯, for they constitute the elements
which will favor the conditioning of the individuals' interpretation process. Logos and designs are thus
the brands' main weapons for the development of a 'branded interpretation¯ of representamens. In
other words, they are the elements which are designed to leash and condition the interpretation of a
branded representamen in accordance to its omcial interpretative rules based on its design's model.
The logo thus has to has to monopolize the individual's attention in his observation process. In other
words, the individual's cognitive resources have to be mainly mobilized in his relation to it, favoring
the conditioned interpretation of the observed product based on its thirdness 'branded¯ level.
Branding strategies thus incite the individual to not focus on the observed branded representamen's
intrinsic generic and standardized qualities, but on its conventional meaning dehned and managed by
its rights holders. The individual overlooks the observed representamen's intrinsic qualities (favors its
compliance toward its closed/depriving nature and denied complete observation) to develop an
interpretation based on the thirdness level (domination of the brand with conventional meaning over
the representamen' qualities).
The development of a strong branded relation is based, as we said, on innuence and manipulation
techniques aiming at conditioning and strengthening the individuals' anective and conative attitudinal
dimensions about their relation to specihc brands. The development of a certain and comfortable
cognitive framework can thus favor the crystallization of their attitudes about it as well as their
enclosure within cognitive silos necessary for their brands' rights holders to exercise control over them
and protect their brand's value (as we will analyze later). Klein (2000) emphasizes the individuals'
commitment to brands and branded products : 'So here we are, for better or for worse, having
meaningful committed relationship with our toothpaste and co-dependencies on our conditioner.¯ The
enects of the individuals' manipulation by the brands' rights holders and the brand's omcial design
(with rigid interpretative rules protecting its identity) which will testify of the branding strategies'
emciency (according to Festinger's analysis, 1957):
- Radicalization of attitudes : In order to favor the radicalization in case of cognitive dissonance (e.g.,
observation and meaningful interpretation of a compromising/disruptive sign-vehicle within the
branded representamen triggering dichotomous values with the initial ones coming from the brand,
such as DRMs);
- Resistance against attacks : In order to favor the radicalization in case of cognitive dissonance (e.g.,
observation and meaningful interpretation of a compromising/disruptive sign-vehicle within the
branded representamen triggering dichotomous values with the initial ones coming from the brand,
such as DRMs).
- Tendency to action : Via the strengthening of the conative dimension toward the brand and its
branded products.
A brand can thus generate social innuences on the individuals exposed to branded representamens :
- Compliance : Via the public compliance but preservation of private attitudes, especially if the
individual evolves in a group composed of individuals having strongly committed relations to it;
- Identihcation : Via attractiveness. Klein (2000) thus states that 'If brands are indeed intimately
entangled with our culture and our identities, when they do wrong, their crimes are not dismissed as
merely the misdemeanours of another corporation trying to make a buck. Instead, many of the people
who inhabit their branded worlds feel complicit in their wrongs, both guilty and connected. But this
connection is a volatile one: it is not the old-style loyalty between lifelong employee and corporate
boss; rather, this is a connection more akin to the relationship of fan and celebrity: emotionally intense
but shallow enough to turn on a dime. This volatility is the unintended consequence of brand
managers striving for unprecedented intimacy with the consumer while forging a more casual role with
the workforce.¯
- Internalization : Total control by the brand's rights holders and individual's alienation to the brand's
reality, giving its rights holders a total control over his cognitive framework. Religious/dogmatic
The branding strategy's main goals thus are :
- A strong anective and conative relation to the brand : Favors crystallization of attitudes and the free
compliance based on a blind trust;
- The internalization of distinctiveness and of its omcial interpretative rules (design's model, via
cognitive silo) and of deprivation (mental DRM);
- The illusion of choice to manipulate the individuals, toward the branded ecosystem's options, and
toward the diversity of competitive products;
The control of the individual's attention by a brand will concern in our semiotic analysis :
- The individual's attention toward other competitive brands : When the individual thinks about a
specihc distinctive brand (with his identity, attitudes and absorbed 'extensions¯), he does not think
about other competitive ones having potentially absorbed the same key-concepts;
- The individual's observation of the representamen as a branded legisign triggering a crystallized
relation to a powerful, attractive and trusted brand.
The last point is fundamental to preserve the brand's meaning and power of attraction, especially if its
branded products are deceptive by design. The observation of the deceptive products' composition by
an individual is thus likely to compromise the branding strategy, via the introduction of cognitive
uncertainty likely to threaten the product as well as the brand's attractiveness. As Peter Lee (2005),
Disney Executive said in an interview with 1he Economist, 'If consumers even know there's a DRM,
what it is, and how it works, we've already failed." The individual's strong cognitive relation to a brand
and, by extension, its branded products will make us consider the Heider's POX model as part of this
triadic relation individual - brand - branded representamen.
The slave/master branded relation is thus favored if the individual is strongly committed to the brand
and has developed a strong dependence to it. The religious relation based on a strong devotion can also
be used as a mean of control over him by the brand's rights holders, via the favoring of his deception
via deceptive by design branded products. It can also favor his alienation to a 'leashed branded virtual¯
necessary to develop what we will call a 'semiotic loop¯.
We will emphasize, based on Klein's analysis, four strategies likely to be used to develop a brands'
power of innuence over the individuals :
- Advertising and sponsoring : Aiming at developing positive mental associations between the brand
and key concepts/ideas. This strategy involves innuence techniques such as evaluative conditioning and
poetic messages in order to favor the individuals' mental conditioning (i.e., with the stimulation of his
anective and conative attitudinal dimensions) via the penetration of their subconscious;
- Colonization of culture : Aiming at 'absorbing¯ key cultural concepts/ideas by the brand in order to
develop its distinctiveness and attractiveness and take their place as 'main attraction¯ in the
individuals' imaginary;
- Colonization of the public space : Aiming at invading the individuals' daily life to favor the
penetration of their subconsciousness, via their constant exposition to branded and copyrighted
symbols and physical spaces;
- Mergers and synergies : Aiming at strengthening the power of the brands' rights holders and favor
their strategies of innuence and manipulation toward their customers, by comforting them in an
illusion of freedom via choice within branded products, in order to avoid phenomena likely to threaten
the branding strategy such as reactance;
- Censorship and legal bullying : Aiming at protecting the brand's distinctiveness against confusion and
genericide and leash/control the creative process likely to threaten the brand's intellectual property/ies
via the internalization of mental DRMs and cognitive silos.
All these strategies can be used to achieve 'brandscendence¯, which we will analyze later. Let's now
analyze them more in detail.
The branding strategy can also aim at developing a certain and familiar virtual pole of the individuals'
relation to branded products, via clear expectations toward both their actual 'position¯ and their
evolution through time. Let's thus focus on the interpretation of the branded products' evolution. The
brand conditioning their interpretation can allow to favor the interpretation of a clear trajectory whose
direction can be easily determined. In other words, the brand can in this case be interpreted as a
particle dehning the product's direction as well as its identity through time and space (according to
Neumeier's dehnition we have analyzed). The particle-like interpretation of the branded products'
evolution can thus rest upon a clearly observed 'trajectory¯ via a clearly located position
(interpretation at a T time) and momentum (via clear trajectory whose observation is optimized by the
representamen's closed/depriving nature and closed/centralized development process. This clear
interpreted trajectory can favor the individual's anticipation of his appreciated branded products'
evolution by their usual or conventional evolution based whether on :
- Secondness : Via usual (however not conventional) releases of new branded products whose
consumption is necessary to preserve the relation to the brand (in correlation with the programmed
obsolescence paradigm); or
- Thirdness : Via conventional releases dehning the branded products' evolution.
Here are several examples of clear trajectories for branded products :
- The annual release of Apple's new iPhones with clear numbers indicating their place in their 'global
commercial line¯ : 3, 4, 5, 6,...;
- The annual releases of both new Pixar movies (generally in summer) and Disney ones (generally for
Christmas holidays);
- The annual release of the Fifa games by Electronic Arts, generally at the end of September, with for
each new versions a number indicating its year : 13, 14, 15,...
These clear trajectories composed of regular releases of new branded products belonging to a global
line is thus likely to favor the individuals' strong commitment to the brand they stand for, via the
regular production of committing actions (e.g., purchase of a new version) aiming at preserving the
strong relation to the brand and avoid to be marginalized within the brand's community. This clear and
strong relation based on familiar and committing behaviors is thus favoring the individual's alienation
to the brand via the crystallization of his attitudes toward it and its branded products.
#..%. 'd*ertising and sponsorship
Advertising aims at developing strategic mental associations between a brand and its dehned meaning,
with distinctive identity and core values. The goal thus consists to favor the individuals' mental
associations between the brand's logo and key-concepts such as cultural events standing for positive
values like 'free music for everyone¯. This strategy involves innuence techniques such as evaluative
conditioning and poetic messages in order to favor the individuals' mental conditioning (i.e., with the
stimulation of their anective and conative attitudinal dimensions) via the penetration of their
subconsciousness. As we said, advertisement is the vehicle used to convey the brand's meaning to the
world (Klein, 2000). In other words, it aims at developing the sign-vehicle(s) shaping the individuals'
semiotic process when observe branded representamens, whether on the levels of secondness (via the
usual sponsoring of specihc events/individuals favoring the individuals' systematic mental relations
between them) or thirdness (via conventional meanings dehned and vehicled in the advertisements and
partnerships with specihc events/individuals).
Branding strategies are also based on the exploitation by marketers of the individuals' implicit
memory. An experience led by Courbet (2008) emphasized that the unconscious exposition to an ad
penetrates the implicit memory, i.e., traces of the past experience memorized by the individual
without being aware of it, but which will innuence his future behaviors and evaluations. Thus, each
time an individual is confronted to a logo, he memorizes it once again. According to Courbet, 'This
exposition activates neuronal networks of the peripheral vision. We acquire a global knowledge of the
logo : its approximative shape, its color,... whose traces are stored in our implicit memory.¯ The brain
then, with experience and habit, treats the memorized brand (via its logo) faster. It recognizes it, reads
it and analyzes it quickly. This is called the cognitive nuidity. And that's when the brain is going to
commit an interpretative mistake. Treating more rapidly an information like a logo makes it attribute a
positive value to it, for the fact to get used to an information makes it more familiar and more
According to Tony Haile (2014), CEO of Chartbeat, the creativity of advertising favors the brand
recognition. Savan describes in 1he Sponsored LiJe (2004), what she calls the 'sponsored mindset¯,
whose symptom number one is that we become collectively convinced not that corporations are
hitching a ride on our cultural and communal activities, but that creativity and congregation would be
impossible without their generosity.¯ In the introduction of her book, he says : 'The sponsored life is
born when commercial culture sells our own experiences back to us. It grows as those experiences are
then reconstituted inside us, mixing the most intimate processes of individual thought with
commercial values, rhythms, and expectations. There is no human emotion or concern - love, lust,
war, childhood innocence, social rebellion, spiritual enlightenment, even disgust with advertising -
that cannot be reworked into a sales pitch.¯ This emphasizes the next fundamental point of the
branding strategy : the colonization of culture.
#..+. The coloni2ation of culture
As Klein (2000) emphasizes, 'The enect, if not always the original intent, of advanced branding is to
nudge the hosting culture into the background and make the brand the star. It is not to sponsor culture
but to be the culture. And why shouldn't it be? If brands are not products but ideas, attitudes, values
and experiences, why can't they be culture too?¯ She adds that the branding process is about pushing
the envelope in sponsorship deals, dreaming up new areas in which to "extend" the brand, as well as
perpetually probing the Zeitgeist to ensure that the "essence" selected for one's brand would resonate
karmically with its target market. (.) She thus emphasizes that 'this radical shift in corporate
philosophy has sent manufacturers on a cultural feeding frenzy as they seize upon every corner of
unmarketed landscape in search of the oxygen needed to innate their brands.¯.
Culture is a key-concept in the semiotic process and in the exercise of creativity and freedom over it,
for it shapes the individuals' interpretation of the world. For example, it can stimulate the individuals'
observation of a work via the triggering of a potentially vast and rich actualized semantic held, and
favor his appreciation as original pieces in relation to their perceived cultural innuences and
references. It also feeds the individuals' creative thought and their 'reality¯ (according to
Wittgenstein's paradigm 1he limits oJ m, vords are the limits oJ m, vorld). A vast and rich culture is
thus essential to fully appreciate observed representamens, via the development of rich and accurate
interpretations and exercise freedom as well as creativity over them. In a nutshell, culture feeds the
individuals' mental representations, by developing their imagination and innuencing the way they
perceive/observe the world as well as their virtualization and actualization skills. It is thus necessary to
develop the creative and inventive skills and favor the collective intelligence, via for example collective
reading practices and the exercise of an individual and collective control over observed
However, culture can be controlled, as we said, by private entities whose copyright policies can cut-on
the creative process. The 'common pool¯ can thus be threatened, via legal strategies aiming at
privatizing the commons. Like a digital program, culture can be used as a 'tool of power¯ against the
individuals (if privatized) and be a source of a really important ideological connict, whose production
and control (whether closed/centralized or open/decentralized) can lead whether to the individuals'
freedom (through empowerment) or to their alienation (through disempowerment) to private entities
controlling it. It can also be hacked for ethical purposes or not, for example to open and decentralize
power, i.e., liberate via a collective empowerment. For example, some individuals can transform it into
propaganda and advertising in order to exercise an innuence and control over the individuals' mind,
whereas other ones can simply 'disrupt¯ it via remixes or mashups in order to enrich the common pool
and stimulate the creative process.
The individuals' culture can thus be colonized, absorbed by a brand and privatized by its legal owner
exercising a branding strategy over it in order to make the brand its core dehnition dehning its
identity/meaning and condition the individuals' representations of it. The main goal is thus to 'absorb¯
strategic key-concepts/ideas to enrich the brand's cultural world. This development of a fully closed,
depriving and branded world (as part of the individuals' psychic virtual reality and composed of
semantic helds shaped by the brand's 'extensions¯) is thus necessary to enclose these individuals to a
depriving and branded 'semiotic world¯ and optimize their' mental conditioning via an egocentric
navigation within it. The brand can thus be dehned by a specihc 'cultural imaginary¯ composed of
'absorbed¯ cultural elements strengthening its distinctive identity and attractiveness. The brand's
colonization of culture can be strengthened by strong and aggressive copyright policies toward them in
order to 'cut-on¯ the creative process by developing an entirely shaped and controlled 'branded¯
semiotic one.
Disney is a really good example of strategic privatization of culture in order to develop a powerful
brand whose meaning and values rest on the colonization of the collective imaginary via the creation
of popular branded and copyrighted works based on public domain ones (tales, novels,...). This
corporation thus recently tried to 'absorb¯ a famous Mexican tradition, El Dia De Los Muertos, in
order to legally protect the commercial exploitation of one of its upcoming movie and its derivative
products. It however faced some strong resistances in this process. As Lalo Alcatra, a Mexican-
American cartoonist stated,"On the onensiveness scale, it seems awful and crass, as the words 'Dia de
Los Muertos' aren't just some brand name but a holiday."
Here is an example of tweets that
nourished online right after Disney's trademark hlling :
@aida_lu aida luna
Dia de Muertos is a Mexican tradition, it is part of our culture!!! It s NOT a product. It
CANNOT be a trademark! @Disney @DisneyPixar
Disney has thus withdrawn its attempt to trademark this name after a strong online backlash. As one
of their omcial spokesperson explained, "Disney's trademark hling was intended to protect any
potential title for our hlm and related activities. It has since been determined that the title of the hlm
will change, and therefore we are withdrawing our trademark hling."
The brand can thus dehne key-concepts after having absorbed them in its branded cultural world. The
brand can thus expand within semantic helds such as cultural domains (e.g., music, cinema, literature,
sport,...), transforming them into a whole part of a global branded cognitive silo. The brand will, for
example, refer to the idea (i.e., interpretamen) the individual has about culture, for dehned by his
strongly appreciated and committed brand. The branding strategy can also aim at simplifying the
individual's cognitive framework via the creation of 'all-in-one¯ branded products absorbing a wide
range of initially distinctive products. This strategy can favor the consideration of several interpretative
possibilities while observing a branded product, which however all stand for the same brand. The
observation of a 'all-in-one¯ product can thus favor the transformation of an initial 'wave-like¯
observation into a 'particle-like¯ one, with the generation of a simplihed interpretamen. For example,
the 'Xbox One¯ has initially been designed to 'absorb¯ all the current technological products for
entertainment : videogame console, camera, Blu-Ray and music player, web browser, etc. Microsoft's
strategy was thus to gather all these dinerent products within one, with a strategic name designed to be
interpreted as one single branded experience : 'Xbox¯ standing for the Xbox brand and 'One¯
standing for the 'all-in-one¯ concept. All the dinerent absorbed products were thus intended to be
interpreted as 'parts of a lifestyle package¯ standing for an attractive brand.
Klein (2000) emphasizes Nike's branding strategy based on the absorption of all the key-elements
composing and dehning the 'sport¯ culture : "Nike is the dehnitive story of the transcendent nineties
superbrand, and more than any other single company, its actions demonstrate how branding seeks to
erase all boundaries between the sponsor and the sponsored. This is a shoe company that is
determined to unseat pro sports, the Olympics and even star athletes, to become the very dehnition of
sports itself.¯ The colonization of culture by brands and the individuals' enclosure to closed, depriving,
discriminating and '¯brand-centered¯ semiotic environments is thus likely to develop what we will call
a 'closed semiotic loop¯.
#..1. The semiotic loop
The brand short-circuits and 'encloses¯ the semiotic process, via the development of a strong anective
and committed relation (inducing a crystallization of the attitudes) to it in the observation of branded
representamens. The brand's interpretation will be composed of the dinerent key-concepts having
been absorbed¯ (e.g., entertainment, sport, freedom,...) and which have been turned (via their rigid
branded interpretation) as its 'extensions¯. We will refer to a 'semiotic loop¯, for the brand's meaning
(and value) is dehned via key-concepts (e.g., freedom, entertainment,...) having been absorbed by it
(i.e., dehned by the brand and interpreted by the individuals as 'brand extensions¯). The observation
of a branded representamen is thus likely to trigger a direct anective and meaningful relation to the
brand (in accordance with its design's model), which will then trigger dinerent kinds of 'extensions¯
related to it (as part of the branding process), which themselves will trigger other branded thought-
signs mentally related to it. Let's take a clear example : a 'branded¯ individual observing a cultural
work might interpret it according to his own cultural references entirely owned, controlled and
'absorbed¯ by his favorite brand. He might thus develop both an idea of the observed representamen
(interpretamen) and an idea about the perceived cultural references having served for its creation
(interpretant relating the observed work to the object). This interpretant (as thought-sign) might
trigger a new one based on its 'absorption¯ by the strongly appreciated brand (second phase of the
semiotic process). Finally, this new one might trigger new branded thought-signs triggering the brand
and so on. The semantic held actualized when observe a branded representamen is thus 'explored¯
according to familiar cognitive patterns (shortcuts strategically dehned by the brand's rights holders).
We will dehne this conditioned 'looped¯ semiotic process as closed, for it induces an alienation to a
fully enclosed (via the internalization of cognitive silos), depriving (with mental DRMs) and familiar
(i.e., with repetitive cognitive patterns) semiotic process. The triggered thought-signs are thus always
being related by the individual to the brand having absorbed them and dehning them (i.e., 'brand-
centered¯) and the cognitive process will be shaped by a systematic discrimination (i.e., overlooking)
of other 'disruptive¯ unbranded thought-signs. Like the hnal logical interpretant based on habit, the
semiotic loop is based on the individual's familiar and crystallized relation to the brand (via a leashed
virtual pole of the relation to the branded representamen) inducing a permanent overlooking of other
potentially disruptive signs and thought-signs. For example, the Disney brand can absorb, considering
its core domain of activity based on entertainment, the individuals' representation of the 'dream¯ or
'imagination¯ concepts, leading to an enclosure and alienation to a branded cognitive silo. According
to our analysis of the cognitive silos, we will consider that the colonization of the semiotic process by
brands exercises an innuence on the two dimensions of the thought-process : sequential and
Let's hrst consider the simultaneous dimension. We will qualify this process, based on our previous
analysis, as 'leashed and branded wave-like¯. A branded individual observing a logo standing for a
strong brand can thus consider, in his relation to the brand, simultaneous interpretative possibilities
based on the consideration of 'absorbed¯ dinerent cultural domains (i.e., leashed wave-like based on a
Both...and... conhguration) and whose interpretation is enclosed within a branded cognitive silo. For
example, the Disney brand can stand for the cinema, literature, music, videogame, food, television,..
The thinking about the brand triggered by the observation of the logo can thus open up a vast and rich
branded semantic held composed of ideas gravitating around the brand. The brand can thus absorb a
wide number of cultural domains and ideas enriching its interpretation, by triggering a wide range of
interpretative possibilities all controlled and 'owned¯ (via absorption) by its rights holders. We will
thus presume, based on the superbrand concept, that the richer and vaster the branded simultaneous
thought-process, the more emcient the individual's mental conditioning by the brand and its rights
holders. A 'branded¯ individual thinking about his favorite brand can thus potentially refer to a wide
range of semiotic possibilities likely to be actualized via a location of thought-signs. This branded
semiotic process can thus favor the global thought including in its core meaning a wide range of
cultural domains nudged in its 'background¯ (Klein, 2000). The 'brand as lifestyle¯ idea can favor this
leashed and branded wave-like semiotic process composed of all the key-concepts structuring and
dehning an individual's life : art, sport, friendship,...
Let's then consider the sequential dimension. This dimension is composed of the theoretically inhnite
triggering of new thought-signs based on previous ones whose nature depends on specihc sign-vehicles
(i.e., Peircean semiotic process). This process is based on our previous analysis about the semiotic
loop, with the individual's thinking about a brand whose meaning is dehned by the absorbed branded
thought-signs standing for the brand having absorbed them, (i.e., via the triggering of these ideas in
the semiotic relation to the brand).
#..4. The competition bet(een brands
The brands' expansionist and colonial strategy inherently induces a connict between other competitive
ones competing for the absorption of the same concepts in order to develop and forge their own
identity, meaning and value. For example, Nike directly competes with Adidas and Reebok for the
absorption of the sport idea in the individuals' mind, while Apple competes with Microsoft for the
computing domain. Brands' rights holders are thus engaged in a competition for attention, with
inherently limited cognitive resources mobilized and exploited in the interpretation process whose
conditioning/control (e.g., via the individuals' focus on one specihc brand overlooking other ones when
think about a specihc key-idea,...) constitutes a core goal for these entities.
This analysis makes us consider another key-concept at the heart of our current capitalist economic
system : cognitive capitalism. Based on our previous analysis, we will emphasize that cognitive
capitalism generates value through the individuals' conditioned/controlled interpretation of 'cognitive
goods¯. The transformation of ideas into private goods (via the individuals' internalization of mental
DRMs and cognitive silos) is thus at the core of this economic paradigm. Let's now deepen this
analysis in order to better understand the main issues raised by the economic competition between
brands. Cognitive capitalism will be composed, in our analysis, of two main concepts : economy of
attention and anective capitalism.
The hrst concept implies a competition between brands' rights holders for catching the individuals'
attention and enclosing their interpretation of generic concepts within their own branded cognitive
silo. They thus aim at developing entirely controlled branded particle-like or leashed wave-like
observations of their branded products, favored by the individuals' crystallization of attitudes and
internalization of 'cognitive restrictive features¯ (i.e., mental DRMs and cognitive silos) in order to
favor their cognitive enclosure within closed semiotic loops.
According to Haile, time is the only element of scarcity online. If I spend hve minutes on a specihc
website, I do not spend it on another competitive one. With scarcity comes the ability to pay higher
prices or "premium¯ accesses. The scarcity of time is also related to quality, because catching
someone's attention with bad content is dimcult.
Haile adds that two things favor the brand
recognition : the creativity of advertising and the time the individuals have been exposed to it.
This competition for attention and interpretation (FAT, 2012) will target both the individuals'
interpretamen (i.e., idea of the observed branded product with a closed/depriving designs,...) and
interpretant (i.e., idea of the brand it is designed to stand for, conditioned by branding strategies) of
their interpretative process. The FAT Lab (2012) illustrates this cognitive competition for the
absorption of key-concepts by brands : 'Each construction toy wants (and indeed, pretends) to be ,our
onl, pla,set. Within this worldview, the other manufacturers' construction sets are just so many
elephants in the room, competing for your attention on the shelves of Toys-R-Us.¯ The internalization
of the competitive branded products' discriminating and depriving designs (aiming at protecting their
distinctiveness and prevent genericide likely to be induced by a cognitive connection/merger) can thus,
as we said, help achieve the individual's cognitive enclosure. The internalization of the 'law is code¯
paradigm by the individuals is thus necessary for the brands' rights holders to protect their respective
identity and meaning (i.e., value) via the control of the individuals' mind and regulation of their
behaviors (Maurel, 2011). In other words, it is fundamental to condition their cognitive nuidity and
develop a familiar semiotic process based on a leashed/conditioned thirdness interpretative level.
Let's now focus on the second concept. Karppi, Laukkanen, et. al., (2014) analyze what they call the
'anective capitalism¯, by stating that 'Anect makes us act, exceeding or preceding rationality. The
notion of anect dovetails with operations of power (Kenny, Muhr and Olaison, 2011). Anective
capitalism transforms us into assets, goods and services by appealing to our desires, needs and social
relationships, or by making us act on mere gut-feeling¯. This analysis hts perfectly the brand's
dehnition given by Neumeier, placing the anect as core part of the brand's meaning and value as well
as Courbet's analysis about the exploitation of the implicit memory by brands' rights holders. The
manipulation of the individuals' anective relation to the observed branded representamen can thus be
exploited by brands' rights holders order to favor their free commitment toward them (i.e., innuence
their conative dimension). A relation to a brand based on a strong anective dimension can favor, as we
analyzed earlier, both the individual's alienation to it (for less solicitation of his cognitive attitudinal
dimension in his interpretative process) and the discrimination toward other competitive brands (with
for example an endogroup favoring and exogroup discrimination). This individual is also more likely
to become an 'agent of innuence¯ for the brand, e.g., by playing the role of opinion leader toward his
close social environment.
The brand's visual identity can also be threatened by the use of the same codes by competitors, likely
to induce a confusion in the individuals' mind when confronted to them simultaneously. For example,
same codes of color and typography used for the logos (whose observation triggers the same thought-
signs). The brands can also compete for the colonization of the imaginary and public space, e.g., via
sponsorship. We will thus emphasize that two competitive brands sponsoring the same cultural event is
likely to induce confusion in the individuals 'mind observing these two connicting entities (interpreted
according to a discriminated treatment) standing for the same values and lifestyles.
Dinerent copyrighted works renecting the same sources of inspiration, whose rights are hold by
competitive entities/brands' rights holders, can also be designed to be observed and interpreted as
original pieces (via their absorption of the dinerent works having served as source of inspiration for
their creation according to Seemel's analysis, 2013). Moreover, these entities can also compete for
their works' commercial name requiring to be protected a trademark framing their works' legal
commercial exploitation. For example, two competitive animation studios having created
simultaneously copyrighted works based on a famous classic from the public domain might compete
for :
- Catching the individuals' attention and interpretation : Develop observations of their work as
standing for their respective brand, with internalization of mental DRMs, i.e., of deprivation toward it
as well as the absorption of the old 'common¯ work by the new one and, by extension, the brand it
stands for;
- The work's name as trademark for further commercial exploitations (rivalrous resource).
The dinerent rights holders thus compete for the control over the individuals' interpretation process
and share a consensus of distinctiveness aiming, for each of them, at protecting their respective
'intellectual properties¯ through branded mental associations, while hghting at the same time for the
'absorption¯ of the same generic key-ideas. In other words, they aim at enclosing individuals into silos
(physical/digital and cognitive) and favor the crystallization of their attitudes when observe and
interpret branded products or absorbed key-concepts dehning their meaning and identity. Competitive
brands can thus get engaged in an intense connict to develop and preserve their own identity and
dominate other ones in the colonization of the individuals' mind.
We are now going to analyze another key-dimension of the branding strategy. While the number of
brands in competition should theoretically renect the degree of choice (i.e., 'freedom¯) of the
individuals in their consumerist actions, the constant instability and evolution of the capitalist system
induces a new kind of strategic control by the brands' rights holders : the illusion of choice achieved
through mergers and synergies.
#..5. ,ergers and synergies
According to Klein (2000), mergers and synergies between corporations induce a loss of meaningful
choices. She thus emphasizes that 'The branded multinationals may talk diversity, but the visible result
of their actions is an army of teen clones marching - in 'uniform,¯ as the marketers say - into the
global mall. Despite the embrace of polyethnic imagery, market-driven globalization doesn't want
diversity; quite the opposite. Its enemies are national habits, local brands and distinctive regional
tastes. Fewer interests control ever more of the landscape.¯ In other words, the real question nowadays
for marketers and brands' rights holders is not 'Where do you want to go today?¯
but 'How best can
I steer you into the synergized maze of where I want you to go today?¯
Mergers and synergies between corporations owning dinerent potentially 'competitive¯ brands is thus
a recurrent practice and can be a pretty emcient strategy in order to maintain the individuals in the
illusion of a choice toward branded products (with each one standing for a dinerent distinctive brand)
and avoid dangerous phenomena likely to disrupt the branding strategies : reactance.
Psychological reactance is an aversive anective reaction in response to regulations or impositions that
impinge on freedom and autonomy (Brehm, 1966, 1972, Brehm & Brehm, 1981; Wicklund, 1974).
Thus, a perceived diminution in freedom ignites an emotional state that elicits behaviors intended to
restore this autonomy (Brehm, 1966, 1972, Brehm & Brehm, 1981; Wicklund, 1974). Reactance, for
example, often encourages individuals to espouse an opinion that opposes the belief or attitude they
were encouraged, or even coerced, to adopt. As a consequence, reactance often augments resistance to
persuasion (Brehm & Brehm, 1981). Reactance can evoke a series of reactions. First, and perhaps
most strikingly, reactance can provoke behaviors that oppose the rules or courses of action that were
imposed and encouraged (Buller, Borland, & Burgoon, 1998). Specihcally, individuals often show
boomerang enects, in which they become more inclined to enact the very behavior that was restricted
(Brehm, 1966). Alternatively, they might engage in acts that are similar, but dinerent, to the behavior
that has been restricted, such as smoke more often after drugs are prohibited, called related
boomerang enects (Quick & Stephenson, 2007; 2008). Finally, reactance provokes adverse attitudes
towards the source of any restriction. That is, individuals who prohibit some free behavior are
regarded unfavorably (Miller, Lane, Deatrick, Young, & Potts, 2007). This phenomenon is pretty
similar to the 'ideological blowback¯ emphasized and depicted by Klein (2007) in her book 1he
Shock Doctrine.
Reactance thus requires to be developed an awareness of the attempts to restrict their freedom and
exercise an abusive control over them. It can also constitute a serious threat in the individuals' mental
and behavioral control by brands to protect their intellectual properties and enclose them in their own
branded 'DRMized¯ cognitive silos. The 'assault on choice¯ thus inherently requires to not be
perceptible and hidden under an apparent diversity renecting an illusionary freedom of choice.
Mergers and synergies, as well as the development of an illusionary freedom, is fundamental to
182 In reference to Microsoft's 2nd global image advertising campaign.
optimize the branding strategies based on a simplihcation of the individuals' cognitivo-perceptive
system. A good way to avoid it and optimize the innuence and manipulation of the individuals is thus
to reach their subconsciousness, in order to shape/condition their perception and interpretation of their
observed world via the development of a certain, familiar and branded psychic virtual reality favoring
their overlooking of the depriving/deceptive nature of their generated thoughts/renections.
We are going to focus on a specihc topic constituting, from our point of view, the heart of the
individuals' feeling of freedom in our societies: the press and its sacred 'freedom¯ as core value of our
social 'democratic¯ systems.
As we said, the agenda setting theory (McCombs & Shaw, 1972), states that media do not tell people
what to think, but what to think about
. They can thus create a cognitive alienation to their own
agenda, preventing the development of renections and deepening of certain topics (according to
Schneidermann's analysis of the achievement of independence toward mainstream media, 2013).
Rainaudi (2013) analyzes the uniformity of the informations within the editorial press : 'Freedom of
the press is supposed to oner dinerent points of view to readers, presented in dinerent texts. Whatever
the color or font. When the same text (exactly the same!) is presented 137 times with only colors and
fonts changing, we are no longer in the diversity of the press, we are in market segmentation. It no
longer tries to oner a vision of events but to occupy a niche in the solvent readership or 'advertizable'¯
This analysis hts perfectly the 'brand, not product¯ economic paradigm emphasized by Klein (2000)
we have analyzed earlier. The fundamental freedom of the press, represented by a diversity and
independence of the informational sources has thus been turned into an market based on the
production of generic and standardized commercial products, whose illusion of originality and
distinctiveness is favored by their respective newspapers' branding strategy. The individuals reading
dinerent newspapers having copied the same source article from the AFP might thus develop a totally
dinerent interpretation depending on their interpreted relation to a brand (e.g., Le Monde and Le
Nouvel Obs). They might thus interpret it on a thirdness level and develop a branded semiotic relation
entirely conditioned by these respective brands (i.e., relating the read article relating to the brand and
its distinctive identity, with the individual's inherent attitudes about them). This interpretation can thus
be favored by a focus on the brands' visual identities, i.e., the article's aesthetic form and a domination
of this element over the important ones such as the one indicating the original source copied in the
article (e.g., Source : AFP).
Walter Lippman (1922) provided an essential idea to a theory of modern propaganda distinguished
from the older models. For him, the American citizen does not forge his opinions in his interpersonal
environment, i.e., groups of proximity (such as family, neighborhood, labor relations) anymore. He
isolated himself in an urban cocoon which leads to borrow opinions, knowledge, informations to these
distant and non-interactive sources that are the media. These media perfectly fulhll this function by
providing the citizen with what Lippmman calls a "pseudo-environment". It is through the production
of this pseudo-cognitive environment that the media now innuence public opinion and will favor the
183 We will emphasize that this analysis has been hrst made by Lippmann (1922) who argues, in Public Opinion (1922)
that the mass media are the principal connection between events in the world and the images in the minds of the public.
citizens' acceptance of the main directions and politics onered to them. Beauvois (2005) dehnes it
as'media democracy¯ inducing, by their functioning and their innuence techniques based on 'gloomy
propaganda¯ what he calls a 'quiet totalitarianism¯.
According to him, only a true pluralism of
opinion in the media can allow the citizens to avoid the biases generated by these processes inducing a
reduction of the held of possible (perceived and interpreted).
Let's now focus on a clear example of illusion of choice in the media based on mergers and synergies
between big media corporations, by analyzing the strong synergy between Hachette and Disney. These
two corporations are used to making corporate deals and partnerships. For example, Hachette
purchased in 2013 the Hyperion book publisher from the Walt Disney company. Here is what an
article from the AP website states
: 'Hachette Book Group, a division of French publishing giant
Hachette Livre, says it's buying Disney's Hyperion, in a deal that will signihcantly expand HBG's
backlist with about 1,000 books and a list of forthcoming titles from authors including actor Ethan
Hawke. Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch was quoted in a Friday statement as saying that
Hyperion, with its strong non-hction list, is a "perfect complement" to HBC. The statement says that
under the deal, Disney Publishing Worldwide is to retain Disney-Hyperion branded children and
young adult titles.¯
Hachette and Disney have also co-created a French press society named Disney Hachette Presse
(DHP), created on 1st January 1991 and joining Lagardère Active and The Walt Disney Company
France. The DHP omcial website states that the collaboration between Hachette (Lagardère Active)
and Disney dates back to 1934 with the creation of the Journal de Micke,. The company holds 15
tracks and is the hrst publisher within the Youth Press in 2012 with 1.7 million magazines sold each
year, reaching nearly six million young readers.

Among the DHP's publications, we can hnd two interesting titles illustrating our analysis of branding
strategies :
- Disney junior magazine, presented as 'the magazine that reinforces the impact of the TV
- Journal de Mickey Special road safety : Presented as 'The most powerful operation of free
distribution of youth magazines in France. Every summer for 10 years, a special family issue is
dedicated to road safety and distributed on the Vinci Autoroutes network. 52 pages are based on the
Journal de Mickey editorial page, adapted to the holidays, road and safety themes... in a summer and
very entertaining format¯.
We will also emphasize that the Lagardère group also owns TV channels such as TF1 or Direct 8 and
radio ones with Europe 1 and Virgin Radio, as well as popular websites such as Doctissimo. It is
interesting to notice that Hachette also commercializes scholar manuals with its branch Hachette
Education, like Disney with its educational branch Disney Educational Productions. Disney also shares
some strong connections with another superbrand : Apple. For example, Steve Jobs (former CEO of
Apple) payed a large role in the creation of the Pixar studios, later bought¯ by Disney and was
Disney's biggest shareholder after this 'absorption¯.
He thus used his innuence on the company to
favor the adoption of Apple's iTunes platform by other studios.
This assault on choice is taking place on several dinerent fronts at once. For Klein (2000), it is
happening :
- Structurally : With mergers, buyouts and corporate synergies;
- Locally : Wth a handful of superbrands using their huge cash reserves to force out small and
independent businesses;
- On the legal front : With entertainment and consumer goods companies using libel and trademark
suits to hound anyone who puts an unwanted spin on a pop-cultural product.
Klein thus states that we live in a double world: carnival on the surface, consolidation underneath,
where it counts.
Let's hnally focus on a last key-point aiming at strengthening the control of the individuals by the
brands' rights holders via their enclosure within illusionary free closed/depriving and branded
ecosystems : the 'bundling¯. According to Klein (2000), 'Microsoft uses the term "bundling" to
describe the expanding package of core goods and services included in its Windows operating system,
but bundling is simply the software industry's word for what Virgin calls synergy and Nike calls brand
extensions. By bundling the Internet Explorer software within Windows, one company, because of its
near monopoly in system software, has attempted to buy its way in as the exclusive portal to the
Internet. What the Microsoft case so clearly demonstrates is that the moment when all the synergy
wheels are turning in unison and all is right in the corporate universe is the very moment when
consumer choice is at its most rigidly controlled and consumer power at its feeblest.¯
Bundles can thus be considered as silos aiming at enclosing the individuals within a complete and
familiar branded environment in order to favor his technical, legal and cognitive alienation whose
illusion of freedom is maintained by the brand's innuence over his interpretation of the ecosystem and
the possibility of several ones owned and managed by synergized entities in order to strengthen the
illusion of freedom through diversity within it. The branding strategies can aim at developing, via the
creation and bundled silo and technical ecosystem favoring the individuals' alienation a feeling of full
satisfaction about their dinerent needs, all satished by the ecosystem's possibilities. The development
of bundled silo and technical ecosystem can thus favor this alienation. Strong slogans can also be used
by the brands to favor this enclosure and favor the prevention of a potential disruption short-circuiting
this strategy of control. For example, an individual can realize the ecosystem he uses lacks an
important desired option. This realization is likely to threaten his enclosure/alienation to the brand's
ecosystem, via his integration of competitive products fulhlling his initially unsatished needs. This new
branded relation is thus likely to disrupt the hrst one, via the spread of attention toward key-concepts
absorbed by the two brands (e.g., web browsing and online security for Internet Explorer and Firefox)
and the potential contamination of his initial ecosystem, via the introduction of true diversity within it.
Here are two clear examples coming from two superbrands' strategy of control based on bundling :
- Microsoft : 'One experience for everything in your life¯. The Xbox One device well renects this
strategy, for it was initially designed to be interpreted by customers as the 'all-in-one¯ multimedia
device, whose trademarked name was specihcally chosen to connote this rich unity. Here is another
interesting branded slogan used by Microsoft in its TV spot dinused during the Super Bowl 2014 :
'Technology has taken us places we've only dreamed, empowering us to make the impossible possible.
Celebrate the people using Microsoft technology to break barriers and inspire us all.¯;
- Apple : 'Everything you need to be entertained¯ (slogan of their iTunes online platform). We will
also emphasize another one from this brand : 'You are more powerful than you think¯. This slogan
perfectly renects the brand's rights holders to make the individuals internalize their feeling of
empowerment (and, by extension, their freedom) through the use of Apple devices whereas, as we
analyzed earlier according to Stallman's analysis, these technologies are designed to disempower and
alienate them to a closed/depriving and branded ecosystem (with inherent technical, legal and
cognitive alienation) via tools of power against them such as DRMs, silos, mental DRMs and cognitive
Mergers and synergies have thus become really powerful tools of control against the individuals, via
the development of 'synergized mazes¯ enclosing the individuals without them even knowing about it,
which is fundamental to avoid any kind of 'blowback¯ against the brands. We are now going to
analyze the ultimate goal of the branding strategies : brandscendence.
#..9. Erandscendence
Kevin A. Clark (2006) dehnes, in Branscendence . 1he spiritual dimension oJ the brand, this concept
as as 'A kind or make of brand, as indicated by a name, stamp, trademark, or the like that goes
beyond ordinary limits; a brand that surpasses; a brand that exceeds; a brand that is superior or
supreme over time.¯ Klein emphasizes that 'Many brand-name multinationals (.) are in the process
of transcending the need to identify with their earthbound products. They dream instead about their
brands' deep inner meanings - the way they capture the spirit of individuality, athleticism, wilderness
or community.¯ Clark emphasizes the three essential elements of Brandscendence :
- Relevance : A primary idea and character that drives the brand experience;
- Context : Purposeful innovation and adaptive behavior that drives the brand's evolution through time,
space and meaning to specihc cultures;
- Mutual Beneht: The brand delivers reciprocal advantage for two or more parties and ultimately leads
to sustainable interdependent relationships.
He adds that 'Brands are the sum of the experiences and interactions people have with them - and
when they hrst imprint on us. We hnd these experiences rooted in the hve senses: seeing, hearing,
feeling, tasting and touching. Of all the ways to experience Brandscendence, visual design is one of
the strongest ways to perceive it. The design disciplines have some of the most evolved standards to
articulate brand strategy today. A balance of form and function lead to designs that endure over time.¯
This analysis emphasizes our previous one about the branding strategy, with the importance of strong
ideas likely to be absorbed by brands in order to develop their identity and distinctiveness, i.e., their
value through time via the penetration of the individuals' subconsciousness. It also highlights the
importance of innovation in the brand's life and its visual identities to adapt to cultural changes and
sustain the relevance of its identity and meaning through time. For example, the McDonald's branding
strategy innovated by operating a subtle transformation to its logo, with the introduction of a new
chromatic code to better ht the change of heavy cultural tendencies. The consideration of new
tendencies and detection of weak signals to anticipate (i.e., strategic intelligence process) is thus
necessary to develop the brand's power and favor the achievement of brandscendence, as well as the
colonization of culture.
Apple is a good example of brandscendence achieved by a superbrand. The branding strategy has thus
often been based on the use of religious and epic popular references to serve their branded
. The strong emotional link between the fans composing its community has also
contributed to make this brand one of the most famous and popular worldwide, with the development
of religious relations to it based on a blind trust and devotion. Some neurologists led an experience to
analyze the enects of the Apple brand on devoted fans. These scientists had previously studied the
brands of religious individuals confronted to religious images and found that the Apple products are
triggering the same bits of brain as religious imagery triggers in a person of faith. According to them,
'This suggests that the big tech brands have harnessed, or exploit, the brain areas that have evolved to
process religion.¯ Journalist Alex Riley (2013) illustrates the Apple strategy by talking about his
meeting with the Bishop of Buckingham, who reads the Bible using his Apple iPad. The Bishop
pointed out ' How the Apple store have a lot of religious imagery built into it, with its stone noors,
abundance of arches, and little altars (on which the products are displayed). And of course, the
documentary doesn't fail to give Steve Jobs a mention, calling him 'the Messiah'¯.
The Apple store model illustrates a fundamental part of the branding strategy aiming at achieving
brandscendence : the colonization of the public space. According to Klein (2000), what makes
nineties-style branding dinerent is that it increasingly seeks to take these associations out of the
representational realm and make them a lived reality. Klein here emphasizes a really important
paradigm shift which constitutes the brand, and more especially the superbrand's ultimate goal : its
transformation from 'lifestyle¯ to 'life¯.
Celebration is the best example to illustrate this ultimate achievement. Celebration is an entirely
privatized town owned by Disney. As Dieter Hassenpnug (1998), Professor for Sociology and Social
History, states,'With Celebration (near Orlando, Florida), this same corporation has just put the hrst
private city on the market. This city is entirely a product of imagineering. Whoever buys here acquires
189 For example, the presentation of the hrst Apple Macintosh in 1984 on the music of 'Charriotsf Fire¯ or the the 2011
announement of the iPad with a clear reference to the table of commandments.
not only a house, but also a lifestyle. There's no room for self-expression. Disney also has control over
the hiring of teachers for the school. Even the streets are spaces of Disney's grace: private spaces
which pretend to be public.¯ He also emphasizes that copyright landscapes and cities have been, since
the Disney corporation invented them, a booming business.¯
This town thus clearly emphasizes the new branding strategy deployed by powerful superbrands, which
aim at enclosing the individuals within totally branded, closed and depriving physical places where
everything renects the brand. The individuals evolving within these places are thus onered a direct link
with their favorite brand, with the possibility to physically evolve in their own 'universe¯. We will
highlight the transposition of the silo model (i.e., closed, depriving and connicting environments with
other systems) from the digital world to the physical one, in order to strengthen the psychic virtual
one. The highest degree of brandscendence achieved by this strategy will be constituted by the
disappearance of the brand's visual 'tools of power¯ such as logos induced by the individuals' total
internalization of the brand's values and attitudes.
As Klein notices, Celebration does not possess any sign of Disney trademarked representamens.
Instead, it is a totally Disney-free place, where the brand and all its 'extensions¯ composed of all the
core concepts dehning and structuring an individual's life has been "absorbed¯ by this 'all rights
reserved¯ place. The intrinsically branded values however constitute the core of Celebration's branding
strategy, induced by the individual's deep internalization of the Disney brand, as lifestyle (i.e.
composed of everyday objects 'branded¯ packages). The Celebration omcial website thus states
'There's a reason Celebration is not a town, but a communit, in every positive sense of the word.
While the population is diverse, the residents share a strong community spirit and a desire for a
friendship with their neighbors. (.) The community's foundation is based on hve cornerstones:
Health, Education, Technology, Sense of Community and Sense of Place.¯ In a nutshell, Celebration
constitutes, according to Klein's analysis, a totally closed/depriving and branded life, entirely
conditioned and controlled by a private entity exploiting the branded individuals' illusion of freedom
within a totally closed/depriving place.
Brandscendence is a really complex process. Achieving it thus requires for the brands' owners to
develop a long-term strategy aiming at sustaining the brand's popularity and attractiveness, while
evolving through innovation in order to adapt to natural cultural changes. The social dimension is also
fundamental, for it favors the emotional contagion within the communities of fans, and strengthens the
branded individuals' anective relation to the brand, i.e., their blind trust and devotion to it. We are now
going to analyze the last part of the branding process, with the exploitation of legal strategies to
develop and protect the brand's meaning and value.
#..:. Cegal strategies to de*elop and protect the brand3s po(er
#..:.. The identity as ri*alrous resource
Identity (at the core of the brand's meaning and value) constitutes a rivalrous resource and is necessary
for the development and sustainability of a trusted relation between individuals. The brands' rights
holders thus usually exploit legal protections such as trademarks in order to protect their 'integrity¯
against potential violations likely to threaten their distinctive identity.
According to the USPTO, 'A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identihes and
distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Service mark is a word,
phrase, symbol, and/or design that identihes and distinguishes the source of a service rather than
goods. The term 'trademark¯ is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks. The UK
Intellectual Property Omce UK IPO
dehnition of brand highlights the importance of legal protection
to ensure the trusted relation to the brand and its products or services : 'Brands are therefore
reputational assets based on powerfully held beliefs; they drive the understanding of value in a product
or company, and, perhaps most importantly, customer loyalty. It can, therefore, be important that as a
company develops and expands it considers how its new products and services ht in with its branding,
and how the value that they represent may be protected under intellectual property rights.¯
Slim Amamou, cyber-activist and member of the Pirate Party, moves the problematic induced y
trademarks from the property issue to the identity one in an article entitled Identit, or propert, . the
Pirate Part,´s Jalse dilemma. According to him, 'Having an authority of identity authentication in a
community is very useful to accelerate the acquisition and maintenance of Trust. And especially
because unlike ideas, identities are very competitive resources : there is only one per community per
history. They therefore need a good governance to resolve the connict situations. But a good
governance does not mean ownership. The ownership is the simplest and probably the oldest method
of governance [...] But most of the identities are communitarian, like the one of the Pirate Party and
in this case, ownership regime is not the best form of governance.
Doctorow (2013) emphasizes in 1rademarks . the good, the bad and the ugl,
two ways to protect the
association between the mark and its legal holder :
- Develop a product's popularity so that the association becomes systematic. Branding strategy based
on ethics;
- Exercise legal bullying on the public by threatening them of sue if uses the mark for any purpose, in
any context (even when there is no possibility of deception or confusion). Publicize this aggressive
strategy so that individuals internalize the fact that if the mark is used by someone else (apparently not
related to the mark holder), then it must be related to the mark in any way, considering the too much
high risk to use it without the holder's permission. Non ethical strategy based on an abuse of power
over the individual and a denial of their fundamental freedom to exercise control over their language
and expression (free speech) and likely to create a global colonization of the public space (whether
physical, digital or psychic virtual, at the individual and collective scales) as contributing to a
'copyright dictatorship¯.
He also defends the idea that brands should not be used as 'properties¯ but as a public's right to not be
deceived. According to him, the core of trademark's right to sue resides in the public's heaving
subconscious, on how the public thinks about something : 'If the public sees your mark and makes no
association with your products and services, then it would not deceive the public to market something
else with the same mark. Trademark holders inevitably consider themselves to be trademark ovners.
They don't enforce their marks to protect the public, they do it to protect their prohts (this is by
design). Trademark starts from the assumption that the public makes an association between a product
and a service on the basis of commerce: if I see Gillette on a disposable razor, that's because Gillette
is the company that thought of putting the word "Gillette" on a line of products, and its creativity and
canny marketing have made the association in the public's mind. He adds that 'At their worst,
('trademarks are¯) terrible; a means for companies to steal the very words out of our mouths through
legal bullying.¯
His analysis highlights a particular tendency among the brands, and especially superbrands' rights
holders : the deployment of aggressive legal strategies we have analyzed earlier likely to cut-on the
creative process via the privatization of language. The privatization of this fundamentally anti-
rivalrous resource can be compared to Maurel's analysis about the artihcial creation of scarcity within
the digital world via restrictive features such as DRMs. Trademarked words are thus the 'legal
property¯ of private entities (which inherently induces scarcity and deprivation for non-owners). This
abusive power can induce what hackers like Jérémie Zimmermann call the 'copyright dictatorship¯,
for this power can extend to the coercition within the physical and digital world. A clear example is
the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Maurel (2012) analyzes this dangerous tendency in an article
entitled OG 2012 · . c,berpunk nightmare. Here is what he states
One of the lesser known features of cyberpunk universe is indeed the place that take large
private corporations in the lives of individuals.
In cyberpunk universe, the most powerful private hrms eventually absorb certain prerogatives
that in our world are still the preserve of states, such as law enforcement by the police or the
army. The cyberpunk corporations control territories and employees who work for them
somehow become the equivalent of "citizens" of these companies, whose rights are related to
the fact of belonging to a powerful company or not.
For the London Olympics, the IOC has managed to transfer some sovereign rights by the
English government, but novelists of the cyberpunk wave did not anticipate that it is through
intellectual property that this transfer of public authority would be operated.
To defend its brands and copyrights, but also be able to guarantee real exclusivities to its
generous sponsors like Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Adidas, BP Oil or Samsung, the IOC has
obtained from the English Parliament the vote in 2006 of the Olympics Game Act, which gives
excessive powers. The Olympics Delivery Authority has a neet of 280 agents to enforce the rules
on trade around the 28 venues for events and LOCOG (London Organising Committee) has its
side of a squad of protection brands, that surveys the streets of London coated with purple caps
to ensure respect for the Olympics brand Policy. They have the power to enter the shops, but
also the "private locals" and to seek justice through accelerated exception procedures to enforce
hnes of up to 31,000 pounds...
Naomi Klein (2013) also ironically denounced the re-use of her logo used for her book No Logo, used
without permission by the CIO's stan to explicit the omcial requirements of the Committee during the
period of the games :
@NaomiKlein No Logo in #Sochi - Was just sent this mad photo. Kinda wish I had
trademarked it now... #Olympics
Legal bullying and corporate censorship are thus two heavy tendencies among the superbrands world.
As we analyzed earlier, too much depriving and aggressive intellectual property policies can seriously
threaten the individuals' creativity and compromise their exercise of freedom via both censorship and
self-censorship, stopping the informational now and inducing a privatization of anti-rivalrous goods
such as ideas and language. This phenomenon can favor the individuals' internalization of mental
DRMs and cognitive silos and thus their alienation to private entities exercising a control over their
mind and behaviors. Doctorow illustrates this control by giving the example of the 'space marine¯
word aggressively protected by the Games Workshop company : 'MCA Hogarth, an author who has
published several novels in ebook form, has had her book "Spots the Space Marine" taken down on
Amazon in response to a legal threat from Games Workshop. She could conceivably hght the
trademark claim, but that would cost (a lot) of money, which she doesn't have.¯
He also emphasizes the fact that these kinds of legal strategies aiming at protecting a brand's identity
can favor the 'absorption¯ of old words now privatized via a trademark deposited on them. For
example, Lucashlm Ltd (now property of Walt Disney corporation) deposited the 'droid¹¯ word as
. Moreover, this absorption can also be operated in the individuals' mind. Thus, he gives
the example of the 'space marine¯ trademarked term, whose rights are hold by Games Workshop,
which specializes in the manufacturing of hgurines, and who is known for its aggressive use of
trademark law to protect its intellectual properties. However, 'space marine¯ is a very old term, and
has been used in many science-hction works. He adds that it is also very descriptive, which is a no-no
in trademark, and that it is much easier to demonstrate that a mark is uniquely associated with a
product when there's no obvious reason it would be used in a generic sense for someone else's. Thus,
"Waterstones" is a stronger trademark than "The Book Store¯. It is thus really dangerous for generic
words or terms to be trademarked, for there is a danger of 'branded¯ mental association made by
individuals about generic representamens instead of opening up several possibilities of other semiotic
relations. Trademark laws protecting generic representamens can thus strongly impoverish the
individuals' interpretative (and by extension, creative) process, via the internalization of mental DRMs
and cognitive silos conditioning it.
Based on this analysis, we will presume that the individuals' inference based on the internalization of
mental DRMs and cognitive silos alienating an individual to a brand in the observation of generic
representamen (interpreted as trademarked related to a specihc brand) can based whether on :
- Secondness : For example, with the individuals' experience with a particular known branding
strategy when observe a representamen interpreted as trademarked, i.e., standing for a brand whose
owners are used to exercising a strong legal bullying to protect its identity (not omcial rule but based
on personal appreciation or habit/experience with the strategies usually operated by brands' rights
holders to protect their intellectual properties);
- Thirdness : Omcial rule applied by the brand's rights holders.
This can also be strengthened by legal strategies based on the involvement of the fans in the protection
of the intellectual property. For example, Disney encourages its fans to be a part of this process, by
reporting any violation of its intellectual property.
We will hnally emphasize that trademark bullying
also takes a growing importance in the creative process of big corporations in competition with other
ones for the protection of their intellectual properties and brand's identity, meaning and value. For
example, the Samsung Galaxy S III has been entirely designed by lawyers for fear of getting sued by
Apple, which has trademarked the 'rectangular product shape with all four corners uniformly
rounded¯ as trade dress.
Let's now analyze another kind of legal strategy : the moderated one.
#..:.#. The moderated legal strategy
Moderated legal strategies allow anyone to freely re-use trademarked or copyrighted content, provided
they respect some obligations. In other words, they are based on the 'some rights reserved¯ paradigm
instead of the 'all rights reserved¯ one. Brands' rights holders using these kinds of legal strategies can
focus on the protection of their identity (for trademarked content) instead of property.
The Blender trademark policy is a good example of moderated legal strategy. Here is what the
Blender logo usage guidelines states
The Blender logo is a copyrighted property of NaN Holding B.V, and has been licensed in 2002
to the Blender Foundation. The logo and the brand name 'Blender¯ are not part of the GNU
GPL, and can only be used commercially by the Blender Foundation on products, websites and
Under the following conditions, third parties may use the Blender logo as well :
The logo can only be used to point to the product Blender. When used with a link on a web
page, it should point to the url
You will visualize and promote your own branding more prominent than you use the Blender
logo. The Blender logo only can be used as a secondary brand, which means it has to be clear
for an average viewer that this is not an omcial Blender or Blender Foundation website,
publication or product.
You can use the Blender logo on promotion products, such as T-shirts or caps or trade show
booths, provided it is a secondary brand as described in point 2.
The logo is used unaltered, without fancy enhancements, in original colors, original typography,
and always complete (logo + text blender).
In case you use the logo on products you sell commercially, you always have to contact us with a
picture of how it will be used, and ask for explicit permission.
Ton Roosendaal (2009), Chairman of the Blender Foundation, states about the Blender's trademark
policy : 'Blender's logo has been used in hundreds of ways. This was - and still is - considered to
be an honest tribute to Blender, and the guidelines are not meant to make these uses 'illegal¯ or
'omcially disapproved¯. This page is only meant to clarify the Blender Foundation guidelines so that
people know their minimum rights and where they can use the logo. Modifying the Blender logo is
really part of your own artistic freedom, and the Blender Foundation will never act against such
tributes. Just don't expect us to 'omcially approve¯ of it, that's all. Talking about the remix of the
Blender logo, he emphasizes the problem induced by remixes threatening the brand's recognition :
'Some designers thought it would be fun to make the logo in 3D. This makes it hard to recognize. The
logo should be kept in graphical 2D.¯
The moderated legal strategy can however be strictly strategic, in order to integrate the productions of
the 'branded community¯ in the marketing strategy. Andrew Leonard (2014) analyzes in an article
entitled Hov Disne, learned to stop vorr,ing and lo·e cop,right inJringement the company's change of
strategy toward amateur productions, after the release of its 2013 award-winning movie Frozen, which
turned out to be a huge cultural and hnancial success. This popularity inherently induced a massive
production of fan-made content online, most of it remixing its Oscar-winning song 'Let it go¯. Thus,
according to the Wall Street Journal, some 60,000 fan-made versions of 'Let It Go¯ have been
watched more than 60 million times, while authorized hlm clip featuring the song has been viewed
over 147 million times.
Leonard thus emphasizes that Disney made the clearest possible demonstration of its commitment to
the world of online content creation in March when it bought Maker Studios, a prominent production
house and network of YouTube channels that regularly channels grassroots creativity into more
professionalized output. Disney CEO Bob Iger conhrmed the company's change of strategy by
stating : 'More and more we're taking advantage of short-form video and distribution for marketing
messages for our moves, our theme parks and our television shows,¯ he said. 'Getting maximum
traction from a distribution perspective takes a lot of expertise and a lot of experience, and they've got
According to Scott Kramer, CEO of Maker Studios, 'Disney is one of the more forward-looking
companies in knowing how to deal with digital. (...) What they've recognized is that people do want
the real stun and people will pay for it. All the other stun is like extra -advertising.¯ Despite of its
purely strategic dimension, this change of strategy can be considered as a big leap forward coming
from a company used to be engaged in its protection of intellectual property (as highlighted by
Maurel, 2014).
We will also emphasize a really interesting phenomenon observed within the Disney's community of
fans. Certain fans thus decided on their own to produce content based on Frozen, aiming at protecting
the copyrighted content's integrity via its relation to the Disney brand and its cultural universe. Brian
Hull's thus delivered a rendition of the song by impersonating 21 dinerent Disney characters, which
met a huge success on the Youtube platform. Here is what he states on his video to explain his main
With so many covers of Let it Go coming out, people may forget the original Disney magic that
this song has, so what better way to preserve that magic with other Disney and Pixar characters
singing the song! So enjoy this Disney and Pixar Mashup! Performer is me, Brian Hull and the
audio is recorded and produced by Seth O'Neal http.//vvv.,'·=hJbPszSt5Pc
Other companies like Google have decided to embrace the remix culture, via the choice of a strategic
permissive legal license for its logo standing for the Android brand, which itself stands for the Google
one. Thus, the 'bugdroid¯ trademarked logo standing for the 'Android¯ is released under a Creative
Commons CC BY NC SA license. Former Google designer Irina Blok, who created the Android logo
in 2007, thus states : 'We decided it would be a collaborative logo that everybody in the world could
customize,¯ she says. 'That was pretty daring.¯ Most companies, of course, would defend their
trademark from copycats, and million-dollar lawsuits have been hled over the rights to corporate
insignia. This one would remain free.¯ We can emphasize that the logo's legal license renects the open-
source nature of the Android system, even if it can not be qualihed, according to the FSF, as truly
221 'Android products come with nonfree libraries. These are omcially not part of Android, but that since various
Android functionalities depend on them, they are part of any real Android installation.¯ (..) One user discovered that many
The IPKat website, which covers copyright, patent, trademark, info-tech and privacy/conhdentiality
issues from a mainly UK and European perspective thus states about this 'open-source trademark¯
'This Kat wonders if, perhaps, the decision to make the logo open-source is not so much a
daring act of public engagement, but an ingenious way to build equity in a brand that might
otherwise fail to attain trade mark protection. Google benehts from valuable free marketing by
allowing developers, partners and consumers to use the Android logo as a character, dressed in
fanciful costumes FGfancy dress,G for the Eritish readersH or inserted into clever
environments. Treating the logo as open-source also supports the attributes that Google wants
consumers to recognize in the Android brand: innovative, creative, user-friendly¯.
The choice of a permissive legal license for the logo can thus be considered as really strategic in the
Android's branding process, by favoring its users and fans' appropriation of its visual identity through
remixes allowing the brand to get a huge visibility and popularity worldwide thanks to its community,
as well as strengthening its core values renected in this legal permissiveness.
The giving-up of some or all patrimonial rights over a trademarked or copyrighted representamen
(i.e., the choice of public's empowerment instead of disempowerment toward the brand) can thus be a
good strategic mean to favor the strengthening of the brand's visibility and popularity via the
constitution of active fans which are whole part of the branding process, and the mental association to
specihc key-values at the core of the brand's meaning. We are now going to analyze the lack of legal
strategy to protect a brand and its possible consequences on it.
#..:.%. The lack of legal strategy
The hrst example we are going to analyze is the Telecomix 'brand¯, which stands for really particular
characteristics and values such as freedom, uncertainty and disorganization . Telecomix often refers to
quantum physics to qualify its nature and functioning, with for example references to the wave-particle
duality and the uncertainty principle. Thus, for Okhin (2012), both everyone and no one belongs to
Telecomix. This word only actually stands for an interface that can be used by any individual to
interact with other ones, gather collective resources and build things together. He adds that the
members of this 'disorganization¯ perceived the need to 'liberate the code of the Telecomix operating
system¯ by massively producing documentation about the informal collective and its 'universe¯. Thus,
they collectively produced online informational and freely-editable sources such as wikis and blogs,
and invented a new philosophy based on the 'datalove¯. The cognitive connict is encouraged and
favored by the 'do-ocratic¯ nature of the system, which incites the individuals to act without asking
of the programs in the Android system that came with his phone were modihed to send personal data to Motorola. Some
manufacturers add a hidden general surveillance package such as Carrier IQ. Source :
permission. They are thus encouraged to do what they like to do (fun as core part) and create/invent
new things via a disinhibited semiotic process fed by unleashed creative and inventive thoughts.
Telecomix systematically releases its productions under the CC0 license, allowing anyone to remix
them without restriction. The dinerent logos designed by the collective are thus all in the public
domain and anyone is encouraged to copy, modify and share them legally. It also voluntarily cultivates
semantic diversity, with the voluntary introduction of polysemic interpretations concerning its visual
identity. Thus, Okhin emphasizes that the Telecomix logo can be interpreted as standing for at least 47
possible interpretations. He also highlights the consequences of this totally permissive legal policy : it
has already been interpreted as standing for an activist collective, a cyberbar or even a press agency.
We will thus presume that Telecomix strategically exploits the wave-particle dual interpretation about
its existence and the unleashed wave-like interpretation for its identity and meaning to strengthen its
'chaotic¯ and 'spread out¯ nature.
Laguiole is a good example of common brand anyone could initially freely use due to its lack of legal
protection. This famous knife from Aveyron, region of Midi-Pyrénées in France. was hrst designed in
1829 by Jean-Pierre Calmels. The knife's design shares all the characteristics of a branded product,
with easily recognizable distinctive signs such as its shape and the forged "bee" symbol standing for
the Laguiole 'brand¯, or more precisely a type of knife from the Laguiole village in France due to its
lack of legal trademarked protection.
However, this absence of trademark to protect the exploitation of the Laguiole 'common brand¯ was
exploited by Gilbert Szajner, businessman who registered the village name as a trademark in 1993.
His company thus started marketing a wide range of products such as table linen, corkscrews, lighters
and even barbecues. The Laguiole village thus realized that many of the trademarked product standing
for the Laguiole brand (now omcially deposited, i.e., privatized) were manufactured in China. They
are thus now engaged in a strong legal battle to earn back the integrity of the Laguiole name,
compromised by this globalized production likely to induce a loss of clearly located identity.
As the
court refused their request in 2012, the Mayor of the Laguiole village highlights the surreal nature of
this situation : "If tomorrow, one of our local businesses wants to make Laguiole forks and puts the
name Laguiole on them, we will be accused of counterfeiting products made in Asia. You can see the
paradox . we've been walked all over.¯
We can emphasize two major issues faced by the village of Laguiole toward its non-legal ownership of
their own name :
- The loss of mental association between Laguiole products (with branded signs such as the design and
the 'bee¯ symbol) and the village of Laguiole, where the knife was hrst designed (i.e., loss of
- The risk to lose the customers' trust toward these branded products, for example if the branded
products face a loss of global quality for commercial purposes, likely to threaten the Laguiole name's
meaning and value. Thus, the village of Laguiole can face a potential transfer of negative evaluation
from the branded products to the local 'branded but not trademarked¯ products manufactured in their
region (i.e., confusion in the customers' mind between the branded trademarked products and the local
branded ones).
A lack of legal strategy to protect a famous brand can thus be really risky, for the brand can be
exposed to potential appropriations from private entities likely to exercise an exclusive control over its
use and threaten the brand's initial identity, meaning and value. It can also, however, be totally
strategic in order to favor the collective appropriation of a 'brand as common good.¯
We are now going to analyze the possible means to hack the branding and legal strategies based on
aggressive protections of intellectual properties in order to earn back and exercise freedom over
observed branded representamens.
%. The hacking of the branding strategy and of the intellectual property
%.. Hacking the trademarked representamens
%... )eologisms
A neologism is a newly coined term, word or phrase, that may be in the process of entering common
use, but has not yet been accepted into mainstream language (Levchenko (2010). According to the
Oxford English Dictionary, the term neologism is hrst attested in English in 1772, borrowed from
French néologisme (1734). For Barr Ebest (1999), a neologism is a newly coined word or phrase or a
new usage of an existing word or phrase. For Bowker and Pearson (2002), 'neologisms can also be
formed in another way, however, by assigning a new meaning to an existing word¯. A neologism may
also be a new usage of an existing word (Ebest, 1999; Bowker, 2002), sometimes called a semantic
extension (Picone, 1996). This dehnition is pretty interesting for our semiotic hacking philosophy, for
the creation of neologisms can aim at :
- Assigning new meanings to existing trademarked representamens in order to favor the hacking of its
legally protected 'mental association¯ (core part of the branding process we have analyzed). This
practice hts perfectly the hacking philosophy, via the creation of something new with the breaking of
omcial rules (here standing for the trademarked representamens' meaning).
- Creating new words to qualify branded representamens can also help 'dynamite¯ the branding
strategy deployed by the brands' rights holders, whose goal is to crystallize the individuals' attention
and interpretation on specihc branded representamens and their branded mental association.
Using names of parody to qualify trademarked words/terms can also be a good mean to exercise
freedom over the observed representamen's branding process.
%..#. )ames of parody
Stallman (2013) emphasizes his taste for hacking through parody the trademarked words standing for
closed/depriving objects, as well as its fundamental importance in order to not be part of their
branding process while criticizing them on a smart and playful way :
I go out of my way to call nasty things by names that criticize them. I call Apple's user-
subjugating computers the "iThings," and Amazon's abusive e-reader the "Swindle." Sometimes
I refer to Microsoft's operating system as "Losedows". (.) Of course, I do this to vent my
feelings and have fun. But this fun is more than personal; it serves an important purpose.
Mocking our enemies recruits the power of humor into our cause. Twisting a name is
disrespectful. If we respected the makers of these products, we would use the names that they
chose . and that's exactly the point. These noxious products deserve our contempt, not our
respect. Every proprietary program subjects its users to some entity's power, but nowadays most
of them go beyond that to spy on users, restrict them and even push them around : the trend is
for products to get nastier. These products deserve to be wiped out. Those with DRM ought to
be illegal.(...)
Companies choose names for products as part of a marketing plan. They choose names they
think people will be likely to repeat, then invest millions of dollars in marketing campaigns to
make people repeat and think about those names -- usually these marketing campaigns are
intended to convince people to admire the products based on their superhcial attractions and
overlook the harm they do.
Every time we call these products by the names the companies use, we contribute to their
marketing campaigns. Repeating those names is active support for the products; twisting them
denies the products our support. (.)
To use their term is to take their side. If that's not the side you're on, why give it your implicit
The development of a more and more pregnant copyright dictatorship has incited many other
individuals to practice this kind of hacking to prevent any potential censorship or sanction from
brands' rights holders. For example, popular American political satirist, writer and comedian Stephen
Colbert from Colbert Nation decided to make fun of the NFL's aggressive trademark policy toward its
trademarked names, by exploring the possibilities of how to clearly refer on his show to the
SuperBowl games, without risking a corporate censorship. He chose the term 'Superb Owl¯, stating :
'I believe we can cover this storyline like nobody else, simply by moving one consonant in the title!¯
204 As we emphasized in our analysis of the branding strategies.
Another good mean to hack the trademarked products (and by extension, the brand they are designed
to stand for) is to 'fork¯ them and create another product carrying a dinerent, however similar, name.
This however requires a permissive legal license from the trademarked product allowing this practice.
For example, GNUzilla can be considered as a fork of the Mozilla suite, built entirely on the ethical
values of the GNU project. IceCat and Replicant are also two good examples we will use to illustrate
this practice.
%..%. IceCat
IceCat is a good example of the hacking of a popular trademarked product whose nature (Free
software) stands for values such as freedom, openness and innovation : Firefox. GNU IceCat, formerly
known as GNU IceWeasel, is thus a Free software rebranding of the Mozilla Firefox web browser
distributed by the GNU Project. Its omcial site emphasizes that while the Firefox source code from
the Mozilla project is Free software, they distribute and recommend non-free software as plug-ins and
addons. GNU IceCat thus includes some privacy protection features, included in a separate addon.
Moreover, the Mozilla Corporation owns trademark to the Firefox name and denies the use of the
name "Firefox" to unomcial builds that fall outside certain guidelines.
IceCat, as well as its default
icons, is available under the MPL/GPL/LGPL tri-license. We will however notice that its logo
uploaded on Wikipedia is released under a CC0 (all rights waived) license.
According to the omcial site
, the name 'IceCat¯ was coined to show its relationship to the Mozilla
Firefox browser. Thus, Ice isn't Fire and a Cat isn't a Fox, so it is clearly a dinerent package (the team
behind it does not want Mozilla blamed for their mistakes, nor cause confusion with their trademarks),
but is equally clearly intimately related. They thus remind that nearly all of the work comes from the
Mozilla foundation enort, so they want to give credit for it. The IceCat name, as well as its logo, are
thus composed of dinerent signs than the Firefox one. This makes it clearly recognizable as distinct
product and brand without any confusion likely to threaten the Mozilla's intellectual property while
remaining pretty close from a semantic point of view to clearly emphasize a close relationship to it.
%..+. Aeplicant
Replicant is described by its omcial site as a fully Free Android distribution running on several
devices. The software included in Replicant is Free software that is owned by various copyright
holders and released under various Free software licenses.
The Replicant's name is based on the neologism created by David Peoples and inserted into Hampton
Fancher's screenplay for the Ridley Scott's Blade Runner hlm
. The 'Replicant¯ word thus denotes
210 Interview with David Proples in SacriJcial Sheep. 1he No·el ·s. the Film. Enhancement Archive of Blade Runner
Ultimate Collector's Edition
the cloning process that is intrinsically tied to the Free software philosophy (with copying to optimize
the program's resistance and resilience via decentralization or forking to develop new paths renecting
dinerent philosophies). Let's consider the self-presentation of the team behind the Replicant project in
order to better understand it and its ideology :
'bout 'ndroid
Most of Android is licensed freely under the Apache License 2.0. The Linux core is mostly Free
Software under the GPLv2. However, there are numerous components of the default software
stack on the devices that are proprietary software. Most notably, nearly any component that
touches the hardware directly is proprietary software.
'bout us
We are not experts in embedded devices; we are just enthusiastic hackers that are giving a try.¯
This presentation thus clearly emphasizes the hacking philosophy renected in the Replicant project,
with amateurs creating new Free things on an experimental basis and a playful cleverness.
Let's now focus on specihc kind of hack aiming at disrupting the digital branded products'
programmed obsolescence : emulation.
+. &mulation as clear e$ample of 7cross0brand interoperability8 in order to hack
programmed obsolescence and preser*e a cultural patrimonial
Emulation is a practice aiming at achieving interoperability between connicting computing systems
such as videogames, as well as ensuring the videogame culture's sustainability (we will focus in this
part exclusively on the videogame culture). For Ronan Letoqueux (2014), French producer and
animator who specializes in 'speed-gaming¯, emulation as well as Free technologies are fundamental
to ensure the sustainability of old games running on devices with inherent technical constraints and
specihc lifecycles (i.e., programmed to be obsolete), and thus allows to overcome these limitations by
creating Free sustainable tools to preserve the experience with these games. Moreover, emulation,
which is a perfectly legal practice as long as the player emulating a game possesses its original copy,
allows to short-circuit the editors' commercial strategy consisting to re-commercialize old games on
new devices (as remakes, compilations,...) and exploiting the players' anective relation to them such as
nostalgia to make them purchase a new copy, whereas they already possessed it on new obsolete
Let's consider two examples in order to illustrate the fundamental role of emulation in the exercise of
freedom over trademarked and copyrighted cultural contents
- First example : The development of an emulator allowing to play both Sony Playstation and
211 These examples might be considered as illegal, and given for educational purpose only.
Nintendo games on a XBox One (designed and commercialized by Microsoft) can strongly disrupt this
device's closed/depriving and connicting design and design's model, for these three brands are engaged
in an aggressive competition in the videogame industry. The creation of this emulator will thus
'subvert¯ (i.e., threaten the economic value), not only the Xbox One's design and design's model
(intended to be interpreted as standing for the Microsoft brand) but also Sony and Nintendo's, by
allowing individuals to meaningfully interpret the branded device as possibly standing for all the
dinerent systems built by them. In other words, this creation is likely to allow the individuals to
unleash their interpretation process toward it and develop cognitive defenses against the three
corporations' branding strategies based on the internalization of the distinctiveness for their respective
branded products;
- Second example : The development of an emulator on a console designed to not be retro-compatible
with previous branded products (i.e., requiring a new purchase in order to play old games from old
consoles on the device) is likely to disrupt and compromise the business model of the company
commercializing them, based on the hnancial renewal of its cultural products induced by the lack of
retro-compatibility with its devices.
As we can see, depriving trademark and copyright policies do not prevent hackers to exercise freedom
over them, and thus develop resistances against potential abusive control by the rights holders. We are
now going to analyze several hacks of the copyright law aiming at exercising freedom and unleashing
the creative process.
1. The hacking of copyright
We have selected four cases of copyright hack, from its most interoperable to its most 'radical¯ form,
each one of them renecting and emphasizing specihc characteristics of the hacking philosophy.
1.. Creati*e Commons
The creative Commons constitute a good hack of the copyright law, which is, as we analyzed earlier
based for example on Lessig and Stallman's analysis, not in phase with the digital worlds and its
intrinsic characteristics, as well as the creative and the communicational possibilities onered by the
internet network. Thus, as the Creative Commons foundation states, the idea of universal access of
research, education, and culture is made possible by the Internet, but our legal and social systems don't
always allow that idea to be realized. Copyright law was thus, before the creation of this legal license,
not in phase with the new read - write cultural paradigm and 'reading is copying¯ technical one.
Seemel (2013) also emphasizes the 'hashing¯ process operated by the creators of the CC licenses.
These individuals thus 'deconstructed¯ the copyright law (after having learned its fundamental
principles) and created several legal possibilities likely to ht the authors' dinerent wills and needs
toward their works and their audience. In other words, they constructed something new based on the
old copyright law (according to Müller-Maghun's dehnition of hacking) while remaining interoperable
with it in order to not create connict and allow what Lessig (2008) considers as the emergence and
development of a 'hybrid economy¯. For Seemel
, Creative Commons licenses are thus a good start
for setting creativity free, by creating a fully viable (legally recognized) and sustainable alternative to
this 'obsolete¯ depriving vision that does not match the digital world's 'reading is copying¯ intrinsic
characteristic. However, this hacking doe not question, according to Seemel (2013) and Paley (2010)
the copyright issue, for it sticks to the 'intellectual property¯ paradigm. Moreover, it can induce, as we
analyzed earlier according to Paley's position toward copyright, more confusion in the individuals'
mind interpreting a copyrighted or copylefted work, strengthening their ¯inner censors¯. This cognitive
monopolization by copyright law is thus likely to favor a waste of cognitive resources likely to weaken
the observation and interpretation of cultural works. We can thus emphasize that some 'depriving¯ CC
licenses (CC BY NC ND and CC BY NC SA) can be considered as 'nonfree¯ licenses. Nevertheless,
CC licenses induced, according to the foundation, an important paradigm shift since their launch in
2002 : 'The world changed a little. Musicians started thinking less about piracy and more about how
they could beneht from fans sharing their music. And there's something else. People began to demand
open. We started expecting it from our governments, our universities, and our employers. Legally, All
Rights Reserved is still the default, but today, it's a choice. Today, people notice when those in power
choose closed.¯
The Creative Commons thus not only favored the transposition of copyright law from the physical
world to the digital one, but also induced a change of cultural paradigm from enclosure and
deprivation to openness and empowerment. Let's now focus on a hacking of copyright that focuses
entirely on the insurance and preservation of the users' freedom : the copyleft.
1.#. Copyleft
The website dehnes copyleft as a method for making a program (or other work) free, and
requiring all modihed and extended versions of the program to be free as well. Thus, 'in the GNU
project, our aim is to give all users the freedom to redistribute and change GNU software. If
middlemen could strip on the freedom, we might have many users, but those users would not have
freedom. So instead of putting GNU software in the public domain, we 'copyleft¯ it. Copyleft says
that anyone who redistributes the software, with or without changes, must pass along the freedom to
further copy and change it. Copyleft guarantees that every user has freedom.¯
This hack of the classic copyright license thus focuses on the preservation of the works' Free nature,
while creating a virtuous circle based on the contaminative nature of this license dehned by its share-
alike term. Thus, while some authors might use copyright to take away the users' freedom (i.e., cut-on
the creative process by preventing any remix), authors embracing the copyleft philosophy use
copyright to guarantee it. This is why, according to the GNU team, they reverse the name 'copyright¯,
transformed into 'copyleft¯. This hack thus allows to reverse the values of the copyright, by operating
a paradigm shift from collective disempowerment to collective empowerment. Its creators also hacked
the copyright symbol, represented by a c in a circle (also called 'big c¯ by Seemel) by reversing it, thus
creating a new symbol representing a backwards C in a circle. This symbol thus renects the playful
cleverness of the hacking philosophy, via the 'twisting¯ of an omcial and widely used and recognized
symbol of its respective meaning to create brand new ones using the hacked symbol's initial
connotation to favor the individuals' interpretation of the new one. Here, the backwards 'C¯ can thus
easily be interpreted by anyone as standing for the opposite meaning and values of the classic
copyright one, without even being aware of the copyleft's true legal nature.
The GNU team however emphasizes that using a backwards C in a circle instead of a copyright
symbol is a legal mistake, for copyleft is based legally on copyright. The copylefted work should thus
have a copyright notice. In a nutshell, a copyright notice requires either the copyright symbol (a C in a
circle) or the word 'Copyright¯. The team emphasizes that the backwards C in a circle has no special
legal signihcance, so it doesn't make a copyright notice. It may be amusing in book covers, posters,
and such, but does not have to be used on websites to dehne the work's legal nature.
1.%. ?oluntary public domain
The voluntary choice to give-up the patrimonial rights by anticipation has already been made by
authors, long before the creation of this license. Thus, Henri-Frédéric Amiel encouraged in his 1880
poem 'Nothing is ours¯ the creators to renounce to their patrimonial rights. He moreover uses the
'common domain¯, a pretty interesting expression for it refers to both public domain and common
goods, two fundamental categories for creation and the dinusion of knowledge today (Maurel, 2012).
We will also emphasize other authors having adopted this position like Leon Tolstoï, who decided to
renounce to his copyright by testament, both for religious reasons and to denounce poverty in Russia
or Jean Giono, who clearly authorized during his life the the publications and translations of his works,
without asking for hnancial compensation.
Folk singer Wooddy Guthrie, in the 1940's, had inscribed on his hrst discs the following mention,
entitled"Copyright Warnings" :
This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years,
and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause
we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we
wanted to do.
We will here emphasize a connict between Guthrie's will as an author and his works' rights holders
(who might not, as we analyzed earlier, be the same). Its producer Ludlow Music thus sued Robbie
Williams in 2001 for the violation of a copyrighted content with a song parodying one of Guthrie's
song whose rights are owned by them.
Finally, Nina Paley decided to adopt public domain for her work Sita Sings the Blues (2010) in order to
favor its dinusion and stop hghting in the Law helds which she does not appreciate (as will emphasize
our hnal example of copyright hack). She thus qualihes this choice as a form of non-violence : 'CC-0
is an acknowledgement I'll never go legal on anyone, no matter how abusive and evil they are. CC-0 is
as close as I can come to a public vow of legal nonviolence. The law is an ass I just don't want to
Maurel (2012) however emphasizes that this license can be considered as an oxymora, by asking this
pertinent question : is it possible to really get out of right via legal means?
He also emphasizes that the voluntary adoption of the public domain by anticipation is not easy to
admit by French law, due to the inalienability of the moral right. Thus, as lawyer Benjamin Jean
explained on the blog Veni, Vedi, Libri, CC0 license bypasses this dimculty by introducing a dual
system of rights clearance
: 'Thus, Creative Commons license (CC-0) is in two stages and translates
the creators' will to abandon all their copyright and associated rights within the limits provided by law
or when such action is impossible, to make a wide nonexclusive license. In this way public domain and
free domain join to become one.¯ We can thus state that the CC0 license is thus a step forward for the
recognition of the voluntary public domain.
However, public domain remains a pretty fragile legal protection for works. Thus, as the GNU website
states :
The simplest way to make a program free software is to put it in the public domain,
uncopyrighted. This allows people to share the program and their improvements, if they are so
minded. But it also allows uncooperative people to convert the program into proprietary
software. They can make changes, many or few, and distribute the result as a proprietary
product. People who receive the program in that modihed form do not have the freedom that the
original author gave them; the middleman has stripped it away.
Finally, we will emphasize another important risk threatening public domain works (i.e., the 'common
pool¯) induced by aggressive legal strategies : the privatization and enclosure of public domain works
via the abusive use of trademark law. Thus, trademark law is more and more considered by rights
holders as a mean to extend their monopoly over it beyond the work's release in the public domain.
Some famous popular icons such as Popeye or Sherlock Holmes have thus been trademarked to
prevent their collective appropriation by the public.
This tactic thus constitutes a serious threat for the public domain, which is likely to be 'dissolved¯
within the trademark law if gets generalized. The use of Creative Commons license composed of the
SA (share-alike) term can thus be a good mean to prevent this major threat for the commons. We will
thus quote the example of the Anonymous logo (released as CC BY SA license) whose trademark
attempt by a private entity was considered as illegal due to its legal license.
Let's now analyze the most 'radical¯ form of copyright hack : the copyheart.
1.+. Copyheart and intellectual disobedience
Paley illustrates her solution to earn back sovereignty over her mind by dehning what she calls
'intellectual disobedience¯. She thus states that although she uses Free licenses and would appreciate
meaningful copyright reform, licenses and laws are not the solution. The solution is, according to her,
more and more people ignoring copyright altogether. She thus wants to be one of these people, and no
longer or rejects works based on their copyright status. As she considers that 'ideas are not good or
bad ideas because of what licenses people slap on them¯, she decided to just relate to the ideas
themselves now, not the laws surrounding them. She adds that she tries to express herself the same
way. Paley (2010) has also decided to question copyright with a 'subversive¯ approach. She invented
a'non-legal license¯ named 'copyheart¯ and represented by the Free (i.e., not trademarked) symbol `.
The copyheart idea denies the unlimited applicability of law through a sentence which may be part of
the license statement :
Love is not subject to law. This license statement is not predetermined uniquely.
This new concept is thus intrinsically designed to operate a cognitive connict and innovation, i.e. a
change of paradigm about culture and copying, by 'breaking the codes¯ of intellectual property (re-
baptised 'intellectual pooperty¯) as well as breaking the social and mental ones (social norms and
'mental DRMs) via favoring a cognitive connict and a change of attitude via the trivialization of news
behaviors. She tried, through this invention, to induce a change of cultural paradigm toward copying
and reading, to favor the collective appropriation and the open and decentralized collective creative
and inventive intelligences toward cultural works in order to 'empower¯ them.. She thus 'hashed¯ the
classic fusion between culture and law in order to develop a new way to apprehend and interpret :
- The act of copying (inherent, as we said, to the digital world) : From theft to love; and
- Art : From property to connection, via the adoption of new behaviors (trivialization of copying and
sharing) and explicit association of this act with love (attempt to change the classic negative
connotation with the association to theft).
Paley's copyheart is purely experimental and 'probably not legally binding¯ for has not yet been
validated by any legal statemement. 'It's just a statement of intention. Its enectiveness depends only on
how people use it, not on state enforcement.¯
For her, the only means to test it are :
1. Mark your work with the `Copyheart message.;
2. Sue someone for copying it.;
3. See what the judge says.
Paley adds : 'We really don't think laws and "imaginary property" have any place in peoples' love or
cultural relations. Creating more legally binding licenses and contracts just perpetuates the problem of
law - a.k.a. state force - intruding where it doesn't belong. That `copyheart isn't a legally binding
license is not a bug - it's a feature!¯. She thus tried to solve what she considers as a major issue by
creating something new on a purely experimental basis and resting entirely upon the strong will to
disobey (i.e., exercise freedom) the classic copyright paradigm based on property in order to empower
the public and stimulate the creative process.
Maurel (2011) qualihes this 'non-license¯ as Magritian. 'The Copyheart is thus a "no-license" (or
rather a "This-is-not-a-license") which marks a will, not to convert or overthrow copyright law (free
approach or copyleft licenses), but to get out of it. According to Maurel, 'Although Nina Paley is a fan
of free licenses, she also has a very interesting critical perspective on the subject¯ and concludes by
stating that it is perhaps time to move beyond the logic of Copyleft itself to enter the one of the Copy-
Out : getting outside the scope of copyright rather than being part of its development.
We can thus assume that Paley clearly hacked Copyright by disobeying its norms and principles and
building a new purely experimental paradigm without caring of its legal validity. She thus transgressed
the existing norms to propose a new 'subversive¯ cultural paradigm favorable to collective intelligence
and creativity. Unlike Stallman and Lessig who hacked it 'from the inside¯ (by developing a full
interoperability with the old model), she decided to 'think outside the box¯ and to deny the legitimacy
of copyright law, via the emphasize of a clear and strong statement, at the core of copyheart : "Love is
not subject to law.¯ We will emphasize that the copyheart 'non-license¯ has been adopted by several
organizations like Indysci
, collectives or by other artists like Braley Staples or Margo Burns
According to Maurel, copyheart might be one of the best answer to abusive copyright laws, for
searching for a legal solution to solve a legal problem might be meaningless. He thus wonders if the
best way to solve it would be to completely get out of law to give creation new rules of a dinerent
nature. This question is the thematic analyzed by Smiers and van Schijndel in their book Imagine
1here Is No Cop,right. And No Cultural Conglomerate 1oo (2011) which defends the idea that
humanity would be more creative if intellectual property did not exist. It thus proposes an alternative
model the authors describe not as a romantic utopia, but as another way to think about the cultural
economy, entirely rebuilt around the notion of common goods.
4. The hacking of trademark
In 2013, the French Pirate Party, engaged in the defense of the individuals' civil liberties as well as the
liberation of information and knowledge in our digital societies, trademarked its logo at INPI
(National Institute of Intellectual Property). This action generated a massive wave of protestation
within the Party, for it was in total contradiction with their own political position
. Inspired by this
polemic, Amamou proposed to hack the trademark law in order to legally protect the Party's identity
while remaining in phase with its ideology. Based on this proposition, Maurel (2013) asked the
following pertinent question : how to modify the existing trademark law in order to adapt it to more
open and collectively empowering terms? He thus considered the potential 'reversal¯ of the trademark
21$ Californian nonproht scientihc research (
211 For example, this "automatic comic generator¯ created by Margot Burns :
logic, by onering large liberties via the controlled sharing of distinctive signs, while only restricting
certain uses. In other words, he considered the creation of 'Open Trademarks¯ based on the logic of
the Creative Commons.
The idea to protect an identity instead of a property via trademark law also inspired other members of
the Pirate Party, who proposed the creation of a chart formalizing the rights onered by the trademark
as well as the inherent restrictions necessary to protect the brand's identity and distinctiveness.
One year later, the Wikimedia Foundation announced on its blog the adoption of a new trademark
policy in an article entitled Announcing Wikimedia's Nev Communit,-Centered 1rademark Polic,.
Here is an excerpt
On February 1, 2014, the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees unanimously approved an
unconventional new trademark policy. The new policy is uniquely permissive, was developed in
a massive online collaboration among the Wikimedia community, and contains cutting-edge
information design principles to make it user-friendly. Just like the content on the Wikimedia
sites, the new trademark policy is licensed under a free license, so everyone is free to build upon
it when crafting their own trademark policies. In short, it is the perfect ht for Wikimedia's
collaborative projects.
Unlike the legal policies of other companies that are drafted by lawyers in a vacuum (if not
simply copied from other websites), this trademark policy was developed through a seven-month
long consultation with the Wikimedia community to address its particular needs. This unique
process distinguishes Wikimedia from virtually every other top website. (.) Now, the
trademark policy that governs these marks also renects the collaborative nature of the
Wikimedia sites.
The Foundation thus proposes a graduation of uses, from the most open to the most closed, which
rests for a large part on the same system than the Creative Commons licenses (i.e., granting freedoms
a-priori, without the necessity to ask for preliminary authorizations, provided the principles
determined by the one who grants the ability to do are respected. The Wikimedia Foundation also
released its trademark policy under a Free license, in order to allow anyone re-use it, enrich it or adapt
Maurel (2014) considers that even if we have not produced a 'Creative Commons of trademark¯, we
are getting closed to it thanks to this kind of initiative. It might however be interesting to give this
license a higher level of abstraction and to simplify it in order to create a system of shareable brands,
aiming at favoring the open collaboration of communities around a project. Open trademarks could
thus be really useful for the actors of the Common goods movement.
We will hnally emphasize that citizen initiatives are emerging in order to imagine the future of
intellectual property based on a more permissive/empowering basis. A good example is ShareLex
created by Anne-Laure Brun-Buisson. Presented as a collaborative construction tool applied to legal
issues, it aims, according to Brun-Buisson, at making intellectual property law less expensive and
understandable by anyone. Sharelex is thus based on collaborative works and welcomes law users to
cooperate and :
- Share experiences, practical solutions and template;
- Co-create innovative solutions;
- Connect people who have questions with people who can answer them.
5. Synectiction as mean to disrupt the branding strategies and unleash the
creati*e thought
We are now going to analyze another fundamental concept focusing on potentiality and uncertainty in
the semiotic process, which we will call synectiction.
Synectiction is inspired by the synectic method emphasized by Gordon (1965). It aims at exercising an
unleashed creative freedom (i.e., via disobedience and control) over the semiotic process via the
voluntary production of 'problem¯ (i.e., uncertainty) in order to trigger an intellectual challenge
aiming at actualizing new meaningful solutions. It is thus a cognitive process which consists to
consider, during the observation of a representamen, a potential inhnity of semiotic relations likely to
be actualized. In other words, it consists to exercise freedom over the semiotic process via the
formulation of purely arbitrary semiotic relations (e.g.,initially not meaningfully related on the levels
of hrstness, secondness or thirdness). Once the potential semiotic relation is formulated, the arbitrarily
related object introduces a problem within the semiotic process, via its inherent constraints of
meaning. The intellectual challenge will thus be to hnd connections and correlations in order to
achieve the actualization of a meaningful relation. The individual can simply consider these two
elements as they are observed, or to enrich the observed representamen in order to favor its connection
to the related object. This method renects one of the core interpretative principles of the semiotic
hacking philosophy which we will summarize as : 'interpret any observed representamen as a world of
possibilities likely to be enriched by a potential inhnity of new ones¯ or 'interpret any observed
representamen as potentially standing for an inhnity of objects¯.
While abduction is based on the formulation of a creative hypothesis in order to explain (i.e., produce
certainty) the observation of a puzzling fact (Sandri, 2013), synectiction is based on the formulation of
a creative speculation in order to anticipate the actualization of a 'meaningful¯ semiotic relation
initially based on a purely arbitrary and uncertain semiotic process. It is based on the creative and
inventive intelligence processes we have already analyzed (Nussbaum, 2011; Besson & Uhl, 2012) and
has been developed in order to stimulate the individuals' creativity, while allowing them to strengthen
their cognitive defenses in relation to another concept we are about to emphasize : the asymmetric
cognitive connict.
The asymmetric connict has been dehned by Tomes (2004) as 'a connict in which the resources of
two belligerents diner in essence and in the struggle, interact and attempt to exploit each other's
characteristic weaknesses. Such struggles often involve strategies and tactics of unconventional
warfare, the weaker combatants attempting to use strategy to onset dehciencies in quantity or quality.¯
It will refer to our previous analysis about the representamens' design and design's model renecting
their creator(s)/rights holder(s)' expectations toward the individuals' interpretation via mental models,
and these individuals' cognitive colonization by those private entities in order to exercise a control over
them. As we analyzed earlier, this mental control is necessary for these rights holder(s) to exploit their
'intellectual properties¯, whose core value resides on the individuals' mental associations when
observe them (Doctorow, 2013; Klein, 2000) and on compliance (conscious or unconscious, favored if
internalization) toward their 'rigid¯ mental expectations (Paley, 2014).
This connict will thus oppose legally deprived individuals and rights holder(s) toward the observed
legally protected representamen and the mental representations generated by this observation. The
connicting goals will have in common the exercise of control over the interpretation process, but will
be whether to :
- Leash/condition it (via the internalization of mental DRMs and cognitive silos) for the rights holders;
- Unleash it (by exercising freedom over it) for the legally deprived individuals.
This hght for the control of thoughts can be exercised by rights holder(s), as we said, via 'legal
bullying¯ (Seemel, 2013; Doctorow, 2013) or innuence and manipulation techniques integrated in
their intellectual properties (renected in their design) such as evaluative conditioning, 'dark patterns¯
or branding strategies. These entities thus can attempt, via these techniques, to deceive and
'subjugate¯ the individuals (Stallman, 2012) as well as enclose them within silos (physical/digital
and/or cognitive) designed to be deceptive via a closed/depriving nature requiring 'blind trust¯ and the
presence of malicious features transforming it as a 'tool of power¯.
Synectiction can constitute an emcient weapon in this cognitive connict, with the voluntary
introduction of uncertainty in the semiotic process in order to disrupt the cognitive certainty/comfort
likely to favor the crystallization of attitudes and the freezing of the semiotic process. It can also
stimulate it via the feeding of the creative and inventive thoughts with new problems likely to be
solved with V - A dynamics. This practice can thus allow the individuals to disrupt the possible
strategies operated by the observed representamen's creator(s)/right holder(s) and renected in its
design. The disobedience to its omcial rules can thus allow the individual to build something new with
its principles (Müller-Maghün's dehnition of hacking). This exercise of 'intellectual disobedience¯
(Paley, 2014) in order to earn or earn back sovereignty over the mind (by decolonizing it from any
'restrictive features¯) will be coupled, in the synectictive process, with playful cleverness (Stallman,
2012) in order to optimize the exercise of freedom over the interpretation process. It can thus
contribute, as we said, to strengthen the individual's cognitive resistance against innuence and
manipulation techniques exploited to condition and crystallize his attitudes toward the branded
representamens, but also against the 'battle of brands¯ aiming at imposing their own mental
representations in his mind (FAT, 2012).
The disobedience to the observed representamen's omcial rules and design's model thus favors the
exercise of freedom and unleashes the semiotic process (optimized if the individual has removed his
mental DRMs and cognitive silos). Synectiction requires the V - A dynamic in order to virtualize the
observed representamen and actualize a new semiotic relation, with new elements carrying new
characteristics (hrstness), contiguity relation (secondness) or rules/laws (thirdness).This enriching of
the observed representamen's reality via this psychic movement is thus necessary to favor/optimize the
semiotic hacking process, via the development and emphasize of new connections/correlations
between the initially arbitrarily considered relation between the representamen and its object. As
based on the creative intelligence, synectiction is optimal if the individual is used to dealing with
cognitive uncertainty (i.e., reconsider his cognitive patterns based on deduction and certainty/stability
and comfort) and possesses an open and nexible cognitive framework fed with a strong culture
(favoring the discovery of meaningful connections such as lexical and semantic relations,...).
Synectiction will thus inherently require a psychic nexibility, an open-mindedness as well as a rich
personal culture in order to favor the discovery of meaningful connections between two apparently
dinerent elements (as we will try to emphasize with few examples). The hacking philosophy and the
exploration of the limits of the observed representamen's possibilities will also be necessary to develop
a rich and complex interpretamen and optimize the chance of discovering unexpected elements (i.e.,
serendipity). It will also favor the complete observation and the understanding of the observed
representamen's both omcial and omcious (if deceptive design) rules and principles in order to disobey
and create new ones (permanent reconsideration via the actualization of new ideas likely to
change/modify the representamen). The overlooking or bypassing of its omcial rules and conventions
will thus be necessary to consider new potentialities likely to be actualized (via V - A dynamic) and
optimize the synectictive process
In a nutshell, we will emphasize that like abduction (Sandri, 2013), synectiction is a creative process
allowing to produce new ideas and stimulate the creative and inventive thoughts necessary to unleash
the semiotic process. Like it, it can strongly favor serendipity, by optimizing the serendip attitude
necessary for the unexpected discoveries to be observed, as well as the creative and inventive thoughts
via the emergence of new questions, problems and informational needs likely to be answered, solved
and satished. It favors disobedience to norms/rules/laws and the exploration of new creative and
inventive paths outside the omcial ones. This creative speculation thus allows the individual to avoid
the development of a cognitive rigidity in his observation and interpretation of representamens (via
'particle-like¯ or leashed 'wave-like¯ interpretations matching its design's model). This creative
method based on the voluntary introduction of uncertainty and the permanent formulation of new
questions, problems and needs in the interpretative process is thus likely to make it impossible for the
representamen's creator(s)/rights holder(s) to predict the interpretation of their intellectual property.
The two strategic processes feeding synectiction are :
- Creative intelligence (Nussbaum, 2011) : Via the making of unexpected connections between an
observed representamen and an object in order to favor the unexpected discoveries and actualize
original semiotic relations. The more unexpected (serendipity) and initially perceived as divergent
(lexical/semantic helds, sign-vehicles,...), the higher the intellectual challenge to connect and merge
them in order to produce a brand new thought-sign (interpretamen) likely to stand for one or several
(if designed to be dynamic) objects;
- Inventive intelligence (Besson & Uhl, 2011) : Via the optimization of the cognitive process in order
to favor their actualization (considering the dinerent inherent constraints). The strategic intelligence
(Besson & Possin, 2009), as core part of the inventive intelligence, allows to optimize the acquisition
and exploitation of information and knowledge about the observed representamen (i.e. enrich its
interpretation) and stimulates the virtualization process by providing it with new questions/problems
and an operational emcient way to search (i.e., navigation and exploration process, with integration of
We will emphasize another cognitive method aiming at stimulating the creative thought. This will
consist to observe simultaneously dinerent representamens (with their intrinsic characteristics)
standing for dinerent objects and try to connect or 'merge¯ them, via the creation of a brand new one
and the actualization of a new meaningful semiotic relation. The goal will thus be to produce a
meaningful semiotic relation via the creation of a new representamen triggering a new certain
interpretamen and interpretant relating it to the new object. For example, the individual can consider
both a bottle and a straw hat, each of them standing for a dinerent object via their inherent
characteristics and sign-vehicles. The creative challenge will thus be to discover meaningful
connections or actualize a meaningful merger between these two elements in order to trigger brand
new thought-signs (intrerpretamen and interpretant) relating the new representamen to a new object.
The search for interoperability between the two initially observed representamens (which we will
analyze more in detail further in this work) can thus favor this cognitive and behavioral process
requiring the navigation between the virtual and actual poles of the relation to the observed
&$amples of synectiction generating the actuali2ation of a meaningful semiotic relation
1. Observation of a USB key as standing for a boat
Let's observe and interpret a branded USB key (designed to be interpreted as a specihc distinctive
brand, with trust and positive cognitive relation) as standing for a boat. The arbitrary formulated
semiotic relation looks apparently meaningless. However, we notice when we deepen this potential
relation that these two objects actually share strong similarities. For example, they both are designed
for transport and mobility. They can both be water-proof. The USB key is designed to transport goods
(e.g., private or common digital ones)/data. A boat can also be designed to transport goods (physical,
whether private or common), but what about data? On the web ('digital ocean¯), the humans can be
considered as 'data¯
(Ertzscheid, 2010). Moreover, the web can also be called 'digital ocean¯, via
the navigation process and the 'hypertextual navigation culture¯ (Sandri, 2013). Let's thus determine
the connections between the Web and a USB key. A USB key can be used to store a part of the web
(e.g., Wikipedia
). It thus can be used as a server to host digital online content, i.e., allow the
hypertextual navigation. Finally, a boat is designed to be water-proof. Searchs online makes us realize
that water-proof USB keys exist and are commercialized. The lexical and semantic connections
between the two considered elements can thus be the transport, the navigation and water (with 'water-
proof¯ qualities).
2. Observation of a glass as standing for a hammer.
Let's now try to actualize a meaningful semiotic relation between a glass arbitrarily related to a
hammer. The main challenge is here to deal with the glass' inherent fragility in order to perform tasks
usually performed by a resistant tool designed for it. Planting a nail with a glass (i.e., transpose the
hammer's function to this object) is hard to perform, for requires to be really careful in order to not
break it (for one of its inherent constraints is its fragility against shocks). If the performance is not
successful, new states by enriching the glass have to be considered, for example by covering it with
Duct Tape (specially designed to be resistant and used on multiple surfaces, i.e., closer to the
hammer's inherent characteristics). By doing so, the enriched representamen is thus likely to have
more chances to perform the wanted task and to be observed as a hammer (new qualities making it
closer to it). The virtualization and actualizaton of a new use (made impossible at hrst because of the
representamen's inherent constraints), thus induces the perceived need to modify the observed
representamen in order to enrich it with new qualities favoring the production of the desired use and
the actualization of a meaningful semiotic relation between the initially arbitrarily related
representamen and object.
5.. Cogniti*e empo(erment and disempo(erment
The individual's cognitive empowerment is necessary for the synectiction process to be optimal : the
acquisition of information and knowledge about the observed representamen thus enriches and makes
his interpretation process more complex. It also allows the individual to exercise a wider freedom over
it, with the ability to 'hack¯ the representamen's design more easily, by favoring his awareness of its
design's model and the deconstruction of the possible strategies and techniques used to condition his
interpretative process. Cognitive empowerment is thus fundamental for the optimization of the
creative semiotic process : the more perceived interpretative possibilities, the more the observed
representamen's momentum and the individual's freedom (via choice and control) toward his semiotic
process as well as his cognitive resistance against conditioning and crystallization of attitudes toward
it. The exercise of freedom over the interpretation process is thus favored via the control over the
cognitive system, optimized by the cognitive awareness and the favoring of the cognitive dimension of
the attitude toward the observed representamen.
Knowledge and intelligences thus have to be developed (optimized if collective, open and
decentralized process) and used as a weapon against the attempt of control exercised by the observed
representamen's rights holder(s), by deconstructing their strategies of mind conditioning via the
disobedience of their dehned omcial rules renected in the representamen's design. A rich and complex
interpretamen can also strengthen the semiotic process, via a higher chance to hnd some similarities
and connections between the observed representamen and the arbitrarily related object. In other
words, cognitive empowerment and the exercise of freedom is likely to favor the disruption of the
classic cognitive patterns and unleash the interpretation as well as the exercise of control over it.
This choice of power via knowledge thus allows the individual to exercise freedom, i.e., control over
his mind and prevents him from being trapped, due to a lack of cognitive awareness and of the
strategic techniques used by the observed representamens' rights holders such as the illusion of
freedom (favored by mergers and synergies) conditioned to favor the innuence and manipulation and
the crystallization of their mental models and attitudes. As Frasca presumes that 'the more dinerent
the individuals' interpretamen, the more dinerent their interpretant is likely to be¯, we will presume
that the richer and complex the idea of the observed representamen (interpretamen), the more
freedom the individual will be able to exercise toward the interpretant and the semiotic process.
Conversely, cognitive disempowerment can favor the weakening of the interpretation process likely to
generate, through habit and similar interpretations at each observation, the freezing of the semiotic
process. The lack of cognitive connict (necessary for innovation to happen) will be favored by the
individual's possibility of external attribution, the disengaging choice (conscious or not) of observation
via the compliance to the observed representamen's design's model (e.g., via copyright policy and
acceptance of its totally depriving/disempowering legal nature). Ignorance, via the choice of
commodity/security (i.e., cognitive comfort) over freedom, with inherent responsibility is also likely to
be favored by the individual in order to preserve his cognitive stability and comfort. Cognitive
disempowerment is also likely to favor the development of cognitive silos and the internalization of
mental DRMs (based on accepted ignorance and 'rigid¯ legally depriving cognitive schema matching
specihc design's models). The interpretative process is also likely to be restricted/conditioned via an
externalization of the cognitive resources likely to favor dependency on a controlled smart object such
as a closed/depriving and branded smartphone.
Let's now analyze in detail the problem solving process generated by the synectiction.
5.#. The problem sol*ing process
Synectiction, via the voluntary introduction of uncertainty in the semiotic process, generates a
'problem¯ whose solving is, as we said, necessary to actualize a meaningful semiotic relation. This
problem solving process requires a stimulated and unleashed virtualization - actualization dynamic and
the disinhibited navigation between the actual and virtual poles of the relation to the observed
representamen. Several constraints have to be considered and managed in order to achieve this goal.
We are now going to analyze which ones and how to manage them.
5.#.. The management of constraints
Let's hrst summarize the dinerent kinds of sign-vehicles. A sign whose sign-vehicle (requires isolation
to focus on it in order to produce meaning) relies on :
- Simple abstracted qualities is called qualisign;
- Existential connections with its object is called a sinsign;
- Virtue of the conventions surrounding their use are called legisigns.
The main constraint will be composed of the necessary signihcation in the new arbitrary semiotic
relation in order to make it meaningful. Thus, the discovery or actualization of new sign-vehicles will
be the main challenge to overcome in order to solve this 'semiotic problem¯. The individual will have
to hnd connections between the representamen and the object likely to achieve a meaningful semiotic
relation. Here are some constraints the individual involved in a synectictive process will have to face
and manage in order to achieve a meaningful semiotic relation :
- Constraints from the object : According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy
, 'the nature of
the object constrains the nature of the sign in terms of what successful signihcation requires. The
nature of these constraints fell into three broad classes : qualitative, existential or physical, and
conventional and law-like. Further, if the constraints of successful signihcation require that the sign
renect qualitative features of the object, then the sign is an icon. If the constraints of successful
signihcation require that the sign utilize some existential or physical connection between it and its
object, then the sign is an index. And hnally, if successful signihcation of the object requires that the
sign utilize some convention, habit, or social rule or law that connects it with its object, then the sign is
a s,mbol.¨
- Constraints from the representamen : The constraints will be composed of the representamen's
characteristics and constraints (technical, legal,...) likely to leash/condition the interpretation process.
For example, DRMs are designed to restrict the individual's experience to the observed
representamen. A SaaS is designed to prevent the individuals from accessing its source-code via
reverse-engineering, in order to prevent its study and modihcation by the deprived individuals and
favor their leashed/crystallized interpretation according to its design's model. We can also emphasize
constraints constraints from its intrinsic nature. For example, a classic glass is not designed to resist to
strong shocks. The individual will thus have to enrich its reality in order to favor the problem solving
process and get closer to/achieve the desired characteristics. Second example : a classic smartphone is
not designed to be fully water-proof. The individual will thus have to extend it via, for example, a
specihc shell in order to achieve this characteristics.
- Constraints from the interpretamen : The interpretamen places, depending on its nature
(rich/complex or poor/simple) more or less constraints toward the interpretant. For example, an
individual observing a closed/depriving smartphone based only on its omcial design (e.g, interpreted as
a tool of freedom) will make the arbitrary relation to handcuns dimcult, for his idea of the
representamen (i.e., interpretamen) and the new interpretant relating to the object will be perceived as
possessing dichotomous values. This meaningful semiotic relation will thus be favored if the individual
enriches his observation of the representamen, i.e., by developing a complete observation taking into
account the smartphone's omcious design and its core constitution with 'digital handcuns¯. Cognitive
constraints are also linked to the interpretamen, with for example a chosen specihc rigid interpretation
based on the overlooking of the dissonant cognitions likely to compromise the cognitive certainty and
relation to the observed representamen. Another constraint comes from the cognitive limits the
individual has to deal with, especially if the observed representamen is complex;
- Constraints from the interpretant : The interpretant, like the interpretamen, places inherent
constraints bound to the individual's cognitive resources and framework. The individual's rich or poor
idea of the object can thus whether leash or unleash his creative problem-solving process. The
individual's commitment toward the observed representamen, especially if based on blind trust, is thus
likely to favor the crystallization of his attitudes and freeze the semiotic process, i.e., generate a hnal
logical interpretant strongly leashing his creative thought, necessary for the synectictive method to be
- Constraints from the social context : Social pressures likely to leash the creative and inventive
process and the development of the interpretamen and interpretant. For example, the individual might
not dare to manipulate/reverse-engineer the representamen to develop a rich and accurate
interpretation. His internalization or identihcation toward the majority attitudes about the observed
representamen is also likely to leash/prevent the formulation of 'semiotic creative speculations¯.
As we already stated in our analysis of the optimization of the abduction process, the exploration of
the limits of the observed representamen's possibilities by disobeying its omcial rules (hacking
philosophy) favors the development of a rich interpretamen and increases freedom over its
interpretation with a wider choice of sign-vehicles. The bypassing of the observed representamen's
restrictions (e.g, closed/depriving nature, DRMs,...) such as reverse-engineering can thus favor the
discovery and/or actualization of new sign-vehicles the individual was initially not aware of.
Intellectual disobedience, as defended by Paley with her 'Focus on art, not law¯ paradigm, can also
unleash this process, via the voluntary overlooking of the conventional sign-vehicles such as brands or
legal terms applying to the observed 'intellectual property¯. This cognitive practice can also favor the
unleashing of the semiotic process, via the exploration of the observed representamen's intrinsic
qualities and features, likely to trigger new thought-signs and enrich this process. It can thus allow the
individual to exercise more freedom over it and relate to other unexpected/unintended objects (e.g.,
not expected/wanted by its creator(s)/rights holder(s)).The overlooking of the representamen's legal
nature in its interpretation can also favor the decolonization of the cognitive system, via the removal of
the possible mental DRMs and cognitive silos, strengthened by the individual's compliance to the
observed representamen's interpretative rules. It can thus be slightly more dimcult if the individual has
internalized them, i.e., if these interpretative restrictions have penetrated and shaped his private
This problem solving process based on the search, discovery and actualization of new sign-vehicles
will be optimized if the creative framework is favorable. Let's analyze this concept now.
9. The creati*e frame(ork
The creative framework is a concept dehned by Michel Ancel (2006), famous French game-designer.
For him, 'The big problem with creation is to know what the creative framework we have to deal with
is. When working on a new console, we have a weak idea of our mean of expression. We need to
make a research work to determine our abilities. We have to increase our abilities by progressing and
The creative framework will refer in our analysis to these available 'means of expression¯, i.e., the
technical, legal, hnancial and social issues the creators/inventors have to deal with during their creative
and inventive processes. As we analyzed earlier, these four dimensions are fundamental to consider in
order to determine the feasibility of the new dehned creation/invention. However, this framework can
be extended and 'hacked¯, in order to unlock initial problems and favor the reihcation of the
considered new idea. A clear example can be given with the Creative Commons licenses, and the
statement Lessig, Abeslon and Eldred (2001) made about the too much constraining legal environment
for creators. They thus decided to 'hack¯ the classic rules of copyright, by deconstructing it (Seemel,
2013) and creating a new set of legal licenses 'unlocking¯ the creators' process by operating a
paradigm shift, from 'permissive culture¯ to 'Free culture¯. The DIY philosophy (as core part of the
semiotic hacking) can favor the development of a favorable creative framework, by stimulating the
personal initiatives to create a favorable context in order to achieve specihc goals.
When asked about his creative process, Ancel states : 'It's interesting to work with someone who has
no constraints on purpose. When you are too much focused on the technical side, you hnd it hard to
stay creative. When we work with a creative, he abstracts of this reality. He creates, and you tap into
this creativity. You say, "Oh yeah, he found a form of hair, a kind of hairstyle that adds style to the
character, which makes it alive and which is completely feasible from a technical point of view." And
maybe we would not have had the idea to do it because we had too many problems in mind. It is very
interesting to let a lot of freedom and try to start from this creation which inspires you and convert it
in an environment that has many constraints¯. His analysis thus emphasizes the importance of the
virtualization - actualization dynamic and the risk of alienation to reality in the creative process.
The Free movement (with the Free software philosophy initiated by Stallman and the Free culture
initiated by Lessig) has also largely contributed to develop a favorable creative framework for creators
and inventors, by fully exploiting new technologies and the Internet network to 'hx¯ all the dinerent
dimensions of the creative framework :
- Technical : By developing Free programs designed to fully empower their users (via the unrestricted
access to the source code and the possibility to modify and share without restriction). Interoperability
as core principles also optimize the use of the dinerent programs and the creative/inventive processes,
by allowing the exploitation of a Free technical ecosystem designed to favor the production process
(e.g., open standards and the Blender 3D program interoperable with the Gimp and Synhg 2D
programs for creating animations mixing 2D and 3D);
- Legal : By developing Free legal licenses/resources empowering the individuals (via the respect of
their four fundamental freedoms) allowing them to freely study, modify and re-use the observed
representamens and constitute a 'common pool¯, fundamental for providing creators with Free
contents likely to be freely re-used for future creations;
- Social : By favoring an 'ethical¯ creative and inventive processes based on an open and decentralized
collective intelligence fed by a non-restricted sharing of knowledge and same potentiality of access
and use of the resources (i.e., universal anti-rivalrous common goods) and a collaborative development
within a neutral/universal network;
- Financial : By allowing anyone to use, modify and share the programs without any hnancial
compensation, for most of Free resources can be used without paying any fee (we will however keep
in mind that the Free term refers to Jree as in Jree speech and not to Jree as in Jree beer). Moreover,
the Free philosophy is, as we said, based on viability and sustainability. In other words, the users of
these programs do not have to renew licenses to keep using them in the future.
Ancel's analysis clearly emphasizes the necessity for a temporary overlooking of the actual constraints
(i.e., via the virtualization and the abstract thinking about the observed representamen) in order to
unleash the creative and inventive thoughts and favor the emergence of new original creative ideas.
This virtualization process will be optimized if the individual has previously 'decolonized¯ his mind
(i.e., by removing any cognitive silos and mental DRMs). However, as he states, the creative
framework necessarily has to be considered in the creative and inventive processes, for it determines
the degree of freedom and feasibility (i.e., of ambition) in them. Its determination and management is
thus fundamental to clearly determine the possibilities of creation and their limits (likely to be
widened/bypassed by its 'hacking¯) and get an accurate view and knowledge about the actual
constraints. The act of creation or invention will thus be a compromise between the individual(s)' will,
expectations and the actual constraints. Thus, according to Lévy (2010), 'All creative works-books,
movies, records, software, and so on-are a compromise between what can be imagined and what is
possible-technologically and legally.¯).
The creative framework is thus a fundamental part in the creative and inventive processes, especially if
these ones are ambitious and/or require an important precision impossible for a human being to
achieve. Fab Labs can be a great opportunity for creators to beneht from useful resources in order to
optimize their creative framework ('Do you have a project, but not the tools? Chances are we do¯).
According to the Fab Lab San Diego, 'Give ordinary people the right tools, and they will design and
build extraordinary things¯. The FAT Lab (for 'Free Art and Technology), creators of the Free
Universal Construction Kit we will analyze further, thus admit that this invention was already
thought/dehned, but that they had to wait for a favorable technical context in order to achieve this
extremely precise and delicate operation : 'We dreamed about this possibility years ago, when we
were small, and we knew then, as we know now, that we'd need some adapters to help. The advent of
low-cost 3D printing has made such adapters possible, and with it, a vast new set of combinatorial
possibilities for children's creative construction toys.¯ One of the main goal for creators and inventors
should however be to try to overcome the potential constraints imposed by it, via the creation of
powerful tools allowing them to have the possibility to overlook the technical and legal issues likely to
constraint, disrupt and prevent the creation and invention processes.
Ancel (2011) and Paley (2012) share the same opinion about the necessity for creators to focus
entirely on art and not on the possible issues. Talking about the videogame creation and the Ubiart
Framework engine (designed to allow videogame creators to focus on art instead of on the technical
side of the creation process, and with only few resources), he states that 'videogame has to overcome
technical issues to let creativity speak¯. However, some artists emphasize the fact that more technical
power does not necessarily provide more inspiration, even if it grants the creators more freedom. For
Alberto José Gonzalez, musician who specialized in 'chip-tune¯ music for the videogame industry in
the 90's (i.e., composed directly with the consoles chips, which required to deal with their important
technical constraints),'More power induces a wider nexibility and more advanced possibilities, but not
necessarily of inspiration. In most cases, access to multiple channels and more options allows you to
concentrate on the music (and therefore create beautiful melodies), instead of focusing on other
:. The search for interoperability as mean to disrupt the branding strategy and
unleash the semiotic process
Interoperability is a property referring to the ability of diverse systems and organizations to work
together (inter-operate). The search for interoperability will constitute an important intellectual
challenge in the problem solving process. This concept will here refer to three possible domains :
cognitive, physical and digital. The search for interoperability will necessarily require the
understanding of the connicting systems' principles (via reverse-engineering, metacognitive
dimension,..) and change/modihcation (of attitudes/mental models) or modihcation of the observed
The search for interoperability can, if coupled to the synectiction process we have analyzed, stimulate
the creative and inventive thoughts and unleash them, via the favored exercise of freedom and
exploration of new creative processes. The creative speculation will thus be based on the 'potential
universal interoperability between representamens¯ as core philosophy. By considering 'any potential
connection/merger between representamens¯, the individual(s) can create new meaningful
representamens likely to enrich the semiotic process. The search for interoperability can thus allow to
create unexpected new representamens based on an initially arbitrarily considered 'meaningless¯
connection/merger between 'connicting¯ ones observed simultaneously. This cognitive process is
emphasized by Ertzscheid and Gazellot (2010), who state that "Linking informational units can allow
to discover unexpected correlations.¯
Interoperability inherently requires to ' think outside the box¯, created via a consensus (formal or
informal) by the rights holders owning competitive products and brands in order to exercise freedom
over the semiotic process. Making 'omcious¯ connections, blending or mergers between dinerent
objects observed as representamens are thus likely to favor the exploration of new creative paths and
stimulate the semiotic process by actualizing, if achieved 'semiotic interoperability¯, a new
meaningful relation. This actualization can stimulate the semiotic process via the trigger of new
thought-signs and an enriching of the interpretation process via new initially unexpected opportunities,
i.e., increase the individuals' freedom over it. The search for interoperability will necessarily imply
the analysis of the 'war of design¯ induced by intellectual property and the 'cognitive capitalism¯.
;. Cogniti*e capitalism as *alue through mental representations
Ed Emery describes the characteristics of cognitive capitalism. For him, 'The production of wealth is
no longer based solely and exclusively on material production but is based increasingly on immaterial
elements, in other words on raw materials that are intangible and dimcult to measure and quantify,
deriving directly from employment of the relational, anective and cerebral faculties of human beings.
(.) The role of knowledge becomes fundamental. To the creation of value through material
production is added the creation of value through the production of knowledge. Cognitive capitalism
means that the production of wealth takes place increasingly through knowledge, through the use of
those faculties of labour that are dehned by cognitive activity (cognitive labour), in other words
principally through immaterial cerebral and relational activities.¯
We will extend this concept by referring while using this term to the wealth/value residing on the
conditioning of the individuals' interpretative process according to specihc 'mental associations¯
protecting intellectual properties' distinctiveness, i.e., economic value (Doctorow, 2013). This new
paradigm will also be based on the 'brand, not product¯ one we have already analyzed, and will be
opposed to another one which we will call 'cognitive commonism¯.
The 'particle-like¯ interpretation matching the representamen's design's model will thus be the main
goal for the private entities owning rights over intellectual properties in order to achieve a control over
the individuals' interpretative process. The cognitive partitioning (i.e., cognitive silos) and the
internalization of the deprivation from the observed representamen (i.e., 'mental DRM¯) with other
competitive products, for example the interpretation of a work not as 'art¯ but as a 'part of a branded
lifestyle package¯ will be the main value of this paradigm. This 'consumerist¯ approach in the
interpretation process will be based on cognitive passiveness, i.e., dependence and disempowerment
toward the observed representamen's rights holder(s) likely to exploit this 'free compliance¯ to
exercise control over him.
As capitalism is inherently based on competition between rights holders, we will state that cognitive
capitalism is based on cognitive competition for these entities. As we said, private entities can
compete for the penetration and conditioning of the individuals' cognitive system via aggressive
branding strategies based on the colonization and absorption of key-concepts composing the 'brand
values¯ (necessary for the development of the brand's attractiveness and distinction, i.e., power of
innuence and economic value). These strategies can be strengthened by aggressive legal bullying to
protect their distinctive nature as mental association (Doctorow, 2013). The connicting branded
representamens are thus designed, as we said, to be interpreted as distinctive objects standing for
distinctive brands. Cognitive obsolescence will here refer to the individuals' disempowerment and
alienation to a private entity controlling the object's lifecycle and development process with
everchanging rules of behavior toward it. As Zimmermann (2014) emphasizes, closed/depriving
program's core behavioral patterns (with rules of behaviors,...) can be changed by its creators
(requiring a 'cognitive renewal¯ and new cognitive engagement), unlike Free programs which remain
unchanged, ensuring a sustainability of the acquired knowledge and experience with them. The
internalization of mental DRMs and its intended disruption/cutting on of the creative now (Paley,
2014) also constitutes a major source of value, via the decrease of the risk of seeing the intellectual
property 'absorbed¯ by a brand new work not controlled by the rights holders.
Cognitive capitalism's main wealth thus resides in 'cognitive properties¯, 'cognitive consumerism¯ and
the individuals' overlooking of other competitive products (as part of the 'economy of attention¯). As
we said, these properties in competition with other ones will be protected via innuence and
manipulation techniques feeding strong branding and legal strategies, in order to strengthen the
individuals' commitment to their distinctive property/ies, and control them via dark patterns, cognitive
disempowerment, absorbed key-concepts (turned into 'brand extensions¯) and tools of control
designed to subjugate them (Stallman, 2012).
The 'battle of brands¯ (Klein, 2000) and the 'war of design¯ (FAT, 2012) we have analyzed earlier
necessarily induce, from our point of view, victims. These victims will be the individuals' targeted by
these private entities whose aim is to colonize their mind in order to exercise a control over their
interpretative process when observing branded representamens designed to be interpreted as
distinctive, unique and connicting with other competitive ones. The search of interoperability in a
model based on 'cognitive capitalism¯ thus necessarily faces technical, legal and cognitive
barriers/issues (as core part of the creative framework) feeding the 'semiotic problem¯ and the
problem solving process.
. Cogniti*e commonism as mean to enrich the semiotic process
We are going, based on the cognitive capitalism concept we have analyzed earlier, to emphasize a
brand new one, which we will call cognitive commonism.
We will thus operate a paradigm shift, from competition (with inherent connict and discrimination)
within the cognitive framework to collaboration and contribution. Thus, we will consider these two
fundamental concepts as core part of the 'in¯ and 'out¯ processes of the informational now. As we
said, cognitive capitalism is based on the individual's cognitive disempowerment to facilitate the
colonization of their mind and favor the legal protection of distinctive intellectual properties. The
economic value can thus, depending on the paradigm (whether cognitive capitalism or commonism)
rests upon :
- Cognitive disempowerment : Favors the interpretative conditioning, control and manipulation, i.e.,
the crystallization of attitudes and the individuals' commitment based on 'free¯ compliance. This
control is made possible via the colonization and 'privatization¯ of their mind optimized by cognitive
silos and mental DRMs likely to prevent their expression;
- Cognitive empowerment : Favors the exercise of freedom, i.e., of sovereignty over the mind (Paley,
2014) via the disinhibited connection between any kind of ideas (full cognitive interoperability
favored by the decolonization of the cognitive system and the search for interoperability via the
disobedience/overlooking of the omcial rules as core principle of the hacking philosophy).
Cognitive commonism, based on the Free philosophy, is based on the cognitive sustainability
(empowerment, via Free legal nature of the observed representamen as well as the generated thoughts)
and the open and decentralized collective intelligence process about it. Its core values thus reside on an
unleashed open and decentralized interpretation and sharing (as 'act of love¯ as dehned by Paley,
2010) and remixing (optimized via cognitive diversity), i.e., 'creative now¯ optimized by its
universality with the same potentiality of access ('in¯) and of participation in the creative process
('out¯). Cognitive commonism will refer to the 'cognitive common goods¯ (i.e., 'ideas are free¯'s
legal paradigm) and will beneht from the Free culture paradigm that emerged with the Internet and the
democratization of copying technologies allowing the development of a new popular culture based on
remix (Lessig, 2008). It will thus favor the free sharing and expression of new ideas enriching the
'creative now¯ (Paley, 2014). Ideas will be considered, in this paradigm, as 'anti-rivalrous common
goods¯ for the more they are shared, the stronger and resilient they become (like a digital hle, it is
enriched and multiplied when shared). Its main value will thus be based on an open, decentralized and
free collective intelligence, collaboration and contribution (via V - A dynamic and voluntary enriching
of reality for the beneht of all). The cognitive sovereignty and sustainability, necessary to feed the
collective creative and inventive processes, will also constitute core parts of this concept.
Cognitive commonism means that the individuals are free to exercise control over their ideas once
integrated in their mind. It thus operates a paradigm shift from cognitive consumerism (characterized
by passivity and disempowerment) via simple 'cognitive absorption¯ to cognitive contribution
(characterized by the disinhibited sharing and enriching via actualization of new ideas/expressions,...).
The more diverse and enriched the ideas (with a potential inhnity of expressions favored by the
read - write culture), the more valuable they will become.
We are now going to analyze a creation that perfectly illustrates the semiotic hacking philosophy : the
Free Universal Construction Kit.
#. The Free Ini*ersal Construction Jit and the achie*ement of interoperability
bet(een conficting systems
The Free Universal Construction Kit (FUCK) is a co-creation by F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab. They
describe it as 'a matrix of nearly 80 adapter bricks that enable complete interoperability between ten
popular children's construction toys. By allowing any piece to join to any other, the Kit encourages
totally new forms of intercourse between otherwise closed systems-enabling radically hybrid
constructive play, the creation of previously impossible designs, and ultimately, more creati·e
opportunities Jor kids. As with other grassroots interoperability remedies, the Free Uni·ersal
Construction Kit implements proprietary protocols in order to provide a public service unmet-or
unmeetable-by corporate interests.¯
Koefoed Hansen & Løhmann Stephen (2013) describe the FUCK in these terms : "It is primarily an
art project using marxist inspired analysis and appropriation techniques of modifying and creating a
new, thus showing that things could be dinerent. Still, the Free Universal Construction Kit only gains
signihcance, because it is also a project with a practical purpose : this is both art and design, both
aesthetic objects made for contemplative pondering and practical objects made in order to be useful.¯
The FAT Lab uses the 'fair use¯ as legal defense against potential onensives based on violation of
'intellectual properties¯ (here, concerning the separate competitive and proprietary toys' design).
However, fair use only applies to copyright, not patent, trademark or design (O'Rourke, 2000,
Bradshaw, et al., 2010). Koefoed Hansen & Løhmann Stephensen (2013) state that 'The explicit
reference to fair use gives away the artistic nature of the project. (.) Since F.A.T. and Sy-lab must
know this, their defense fundamentally rests on the assumption that patent holders (hopefully?) will
perceive the connector kit as an artistic expression, not as a set of functional objects even if they are
also functional.¯ They also qualify the FUCK as a ' strange amalgamation of LEGO and
FischerTechnik - an object which is simultaneously both and none of those¯, allowing to make the
concepts of remix and digital materiality become literally tangible.
We will thus presume, based on this analysis, that the FUCK has been strategically designed to be
interpreted from a legal point of view as a 'wave-particle dual representamen¯, i.e., with two omcial
connicting legal possibilities of interpretation (as art and design) and respective legal issues (copyright
and patent). Its creator thus look to try, from a legal point of view, to hack intellectual property by
exploring the limits of its possibilities in order to legally protect their Kit via a Creative Commons
license (which applies to cultural works). This 'wave-particle dual¯ design, with the object's existence
as a superposition of states (Everett, 1957) likely to be interpreted via a choice of observation
(observer enect) can be compared to the Telecomix 'chaotic social system¯'s design's model (Okhin,
The FUCK has also been designed to combine many dinerent interesting characteristics/qualities
coming from several competitive construction sets, i.e., designed to not be enriched via their
connection with other dinerent systems. Thus, its creators state that the Kit 'oners a 'best of all
worlds¯ approach to play and learning that combines the advantages of each toy system. We selected
construction sets for inclusion based on their signihcant level of market penetration, as well as for the
diversity of features they brought to the Kit's collection. Some of the supported construction systems,
for example, oner great mechanical strength, or the ability to build at large scales; others oner the
means to design kinetic movements; and still others permit the creation of a wide range of
crystallographic geometries and symmetries. Using these classic toys as a foundation, the Free
Uni·ersal Construction Kit oners a 'meta-mashup system¯ ideally provisioned for the creation of
transgressive architecture and chimeric readymades
.¯ The creators of the Kit have thus achieved,
according to Koefoed Hansen & Løhmann Stephensen (2013) a meaningful 'cross-brand
interoperability¯ allowing to enhance the individuals' creative thought, via the combination of many
dinerent qualities likely to open up, when meaningfully interpreted, new semiotic possibilities (via the
actualization of new semiotic relations).
Mashup is one of the remix culture's clearest examples. O'Brien & Fitzgerald (2006) dehne mashup as
'A visual remix, commonly a video or website which remixes and combines content from a number of
dinerent sources to produce something new and creative.¯ They add that 'Mashups provide internet
users with an innovative and creative way of using and viewing material on the internet. The term
mashup is not something which is new or novel, indeed people have been remixing and mashing
dinerent things since the beginning of human existence. The term mashup largely derives from the
hip-hop music practice of mixing two or more songs together to form something new, more
commonly known as music sampling or in its digital context, digital sampling.¯ The FUCK, via its
universal adapters, thus empowers the individuals by bypassing the dinerent systems' respective
constraints/limitations and granting them new opportunities (necessary for the exercise of freedom
according to Chomski, 1991) via the possibility of creating 'subversive¯ (for based on disobedience to
omcial rules dehned by the dinerent creators/rights holders of these sets) artistic works. This new
popular cultural work, made possible with the development of a favorable technical context, thus
allows the creation of new artistic works where potentially connicting/competing 'intellectual
properties¯ cohabit and form a new meaningful piece of work possible.
%. Sustainability as core principle of the interoperability and Free philosophy
The FAT Lab, talking about the FUCK creation, states that the kit, by allowing dinerent toy systems
to work together; makes possible new forms of 'forward compatibility¯ extending the value of these
systems across the life of a child. Thus, with the Kit's adapters, playsets like Krinkles (often enjoyed
by toddlers) can still retain their use-value for older children using Lego and for even older tweens
using Zome.
Marx (1859) analyzes this concept in A Contribution to the Critique oJ Political Econom,. For him, 'A
use-value has value only in use, and is realized only in the process of consumption. One and the same
use-value can be used in various ways. But the extent of its possible application is limited by its
existence as an object with distinct properties¯. The creation of new interoperable systems like the
FUCK thus allows to extend this use-value by ensuring, thanks to this interoperability, the object's
sustainability based on a Free technical and legal nature, i.e., the individuals' observation,
interpretation and use of the characteristics/features of each system in order to create a complex new
one stimulating the interpretative possibilities. The 'use value¯ concept makes us think about one of
the Free software's principle, that places the collective use as source of enrichment of the program's
value. Thus, as the Blender Foundation states, 'The best way to develop free 3d software is by using
228 The term 'ready-made¯ was hrst coined by Duchamp (1915) and is dehned in Breton and Eluard's Dictionnaire abrégé
du Surréalisme as "an ordinary object elevated to the dignity of a work of art by the mere choice of an artist."
The Free philosophy is based, as we have analyzed, on the unrestricted production and sharing of
knowledge with the same potentiality of access and participation for anyone and viability (i.e., to be
trusted systems likely to be audited by anyone at any time), sustainability and interoperability as core
principles. For example, an individual using a Free software will still be able to keep using it even
after new versions are released. Even if he changes his computer, he will still have the possibility
whether to make a legal copy, or re-download it on numerous hle-sharing online platforms based on
P2P or direct download. He will moreover have the possibility to keep communicating with other
individuals using new versions of the same system, thanks to the full technical interoperability
between them, and update his program at any time.
Open formats play a major role in interoperability and sustainability of objects. The Commonwealth
of Massachusetts dehnes open formats
as 'specihcations for data hle formats that are based on an
underlying open standard, developed by an open community, amrmed and maintained by a standards
body and are fully documented and publicly available." According to the Linux Information Project
the term open Jormat should refer to "any format that is published for anyone to read and study but
which may or may not be encumbered by patents, copyrights or other restrictions on use"- as opposed
to a free format which is not encumbered by any copyrights, patents, trademarks or other restrictions.¯
For example, the FUCK is released, on its digital version, as the open CAM .stl
format. Open
standards in Free systems thus give the users freedom over their works, via the ensurance of a
sustainable relation to it, as ell as a universal access for anyone else. Free nature thus ensures that the
software will not be replaced by a brand new connicting private one requiring, for the individual to
keep using it, to update it and stop using his old version he was familiar with. A Free object, especially
if digital (for benehts from the digital world characteristics we have analyzed) is thus designed to
ensure a technical, legal and cognitive sustainability.
As we said, closed and depriving 'deceptive by design¯ systems, based on an omcious/ hidden control
over its users, can be strategically programmed to be obsolete in order to favor their renewal and favor
the consumerist 'blindly trusted¯ relation to it. This blind trust can be exploited by the system's' rights
holder(s) to permanently change its legal terms (e.g., rules of conhdentiality and of re-use of the
personal data) binding its users and favor the individuals' overlooking/neglection of these permanent
arbitrary changes. This strategy can be achieved via a strong branding strategy and a cognitive
disempowerment from the users. Files purchased within silos (i.e., closed/depriving and
discriminating systems) are thus 'bound¯ to these 'walled gardens¯ and favor the individuals'
consumerist approach in order to preserve his relation to the dinerent hles. The technical and legal
impossibility to freely migrate his hles from one device to another competitive one is favored via the
individual's non-ownership status and restrictive technologies such as DRMs.
?I. Conclusion
'Hacking is an idea of what makes life meaningful¯. This dehnition, given by Richard Stallman, could
not better renect the semiotic process initially theorized by Peirce which we tried to enrich with our
new paradigm.
Observing the world as a potential inhnity of meaningful connections likely to be actualized
constitutes, according to us, the best philosophy for creativity to be unleashed and transform the world
around us, via the focus on emcient communications instead of on connict and discrimination. The
search and achievement of interoperability thus constitutes the key to 'end the war of design¯ and
create new richer systems whether technical, legal or social. Learning, creating and sharing, both on an
individual and collective, open and decentralized scale are also fundamental practices to ensure these
systems' nuidity and resilience. The liberty, equality, fraternity core values of the Free software
philosophy constitute the basis for an optimal creative and inventive processes. Ethics is also
fundamental to ensure the viability and sustainability of any social system : the creative and inventive
processes thus always have to be based on an ethics of mean in order to ensure the trust between the
individuals involved in these processes.
We will also remind that creativity can only bloom with disobedience. Feeding the creative thought
thus requires to permanently question and reconsider the world we observe. Relativity has to constitute
a key-concept integrated in the creative process, for it is fundamental to keep in mind that ve are the
ones, as subjective beings, who create meaning from the signs we observe.
Finally, we will emphasize the importance of the culture of astonishment in order to stimulate the
semiotic process and prevents its freezing, which can induce naws likely to be exploited in order to
exercise a control over the minds. But we we would like to end by highlighting one essential thing : it
is fundamental, for life to be truly meaningful, to not only cultivate in our daily life astonishment, but
wonder. Appreciating the beauty of the world is thus as important as transforming it with a 'playful
FRASCA Gonzalo, Videogames oJ the oppressed . Videogames as a means Jor critical thinking and
debate, Thesis in Information and Communication Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology , April
APPELBAUM Jacob, ASSANGE Julian, Müllher-Maghun Andy, et al., C,pherpunks . Freedom and
the Future oJ the Internet, OR Books, 2012, 186 p.
AUFDERHEIDE Patricia, JASZI Peter, Reclaiming Fair Use. Hov to Put Balance Back in
Cop,right,University of Chicago Press, 2011, 216 p.
BAGGOTT Jim, Be,ond Measure. Modern Ph,sics, Philosoph, and the Meaning oJ Quantum 1heor,,
OUP Oxford, 2003, 400 p.
BENKLER Yoshai, 1he Wealth oJ the Netvork . Hov Social Production 1ransJorms Markets and
Freedom, Yale University, 2007, 528 p.
BESSON Bernard, POSSIN Jean-Claude, Du Renseignement à l´Intelligence Economique, DUNOD,
2001, 335 p.
BESSON Bernard, UHL Renaud, Intelligence In·enti·e, Lulu, 138 p.
BONNECARRERE Thomas, Comment créer un contexte social Ja·orable à l´intelligence collecti·e et
l´inno·ation'. Atramenta, 2013, 90 p., online :
BOYLE James, 1he Public Domain. Enclosing the Commons oJ the Mind, Yale University Press, 2009,
336 p., online :
CATELLIN Sylvie, Sérendipité . du conte au concept, Seuil, 2014, 264 p.
CLARK Kevin, Brandscendence . 1hree Essential Elements oJ Enduring Bran, KAPLAN Business,
2004, 250 p.
COLEMAN Gabriela, Coding Freedom . 1he Ethics and aesthetics oJ Hacking, Princeton University ,
2013, 272 p., online : Coleman-Coding-Freedom.pdf
CROUZET Thierry, Clean Hands Sa·e Li·es, L'Âge d'Homme, 2014, 90 p., online :
DELEUZE Gilles, Di¡érence et répétition, Presses Universitaires de France, 2000, Paris, 416 p.
ECO Umberto, A theor, oJ semiotics, Indiana University Press, 1976, 368 p.
ECO Umberto Eco, 1he Role oJ the Reader . Explorations in the Semiotics oJ 1exts, Indiana University
Press, 1979, 284 p.
FALKVINGE Rick, Svarmvise . 1he 1actical Manual to Changing the World, CreateSpace
Independent Publishing Platform, 2013, 304 p., online :
FANN K.T., Peirce´s theor, oJ abduction, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2013, 72 p.
FISH Max, Peirce, Semiotic and Pragmatism. Essa,s b, Max H. Fisch, Indiana University Press, 1986,
480 p.
GORDON, William, S,nectics. 1he De·elopment oJ Creati·e Capacit,, Harper and Brothers,
Publishers, 1961, 180 p.
JOHNSON-LAIRD Philip, Mental Models. 1ovards a Cogniti·e Science oJ Language, InJerence, and
Consciousness, Harvard University Press, 1986, 513 p.
KLEIN Naomi, No Logo . 1aking Aim at the Brand Bullies, Picador US, 2000, 490 p.
KLEIN Naomi, 1he Shock Doctrine . 1he Rise oJ Disaster Capitalism, Nopf Canada, 2007, 672 p.
LESSIG Lawrence, 1he Juture oJ ideas . 1he Fate oJ the Commons in a Connected World, Vintage,
2002, 348 p., online :
LESSIG Lawrence, Free culture . 1he Nature and Future oJ Creati·it,, Penguin Books, 2005, 368 p.
LESSIG Lawrence, Code. Version 2.0, Basic Books, 2006, 432 p., online :
LESSIG Lawrence, Remix . Making Art and Commerce 1hri·e in the H,brid Econom,, Penguin
Books, 2009, 352 p. , online :
LESSIG Lawrence, STALLMAN Richard, Free SoJtvare, Free Societ, . Selected Essa,s oJ Richard
M. Stallman, GNU Press, 2002, 224p., online :
LEVY Pierre, Qu´est-ce que le ·irtuel ', La Découverte/Poche, 1998, 153 p.
MARCON Christian, MOINET Nicolas, Dé·eloppez et acti·ez ·os réseaux relationnels, Dunod, 2007,
205 p.
McLeod Kembrew, Freedom oJ Expression. Resistance and Repression in the Age oJ Intellectual
Propert,, University on Minnesota Press, 2007, 339 p.
MAZZONE Jason, Cop,Jraud and Other Abuses oJ Intellectual Propert, Lav Hardco·er, Stanford
Law Press, 211, 312 p.
OLIVIER Michel, Peirce . La pensée et le réel, HERMANN, 2013, 174 p.
ORWELL George, 1984, Signet Classic, 1950, 336 p.
PINK Daniel, Drive – The Surprising Truth about what motivates us, Canongate Books, 2009,
272 p.
SAVAN Leslie, 1he sponsored liJe . ads, 1V and American culture, Temple University Press, 1994,
368 p.
SHERIFF John, Charles Peirce´s Guess at the Riddle. Grounds Jor Human SigniJcance, Indiana
University Press, 1994, 158 p.
SHERIFF John, 1he Fate oJ Meaning. Charles Peirce, Structuralism, and Literature, Princeton
University Press, 2014, 168 p.
SHIRKY Clay, Here Comes E·er,bod, . 1he Pover oJ Organizing Without Organizations, Penguin
books, 2009, 352 p.,
SMIERS Joost and van SCHIJNDEL Marieke, Imagine there is no cop,right and no cultural
conglomerate too, Theory on Demand no. 4, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam 2009, 80 pp.
TISSERON Philippe, Rê·er, ·irtualiser, Jantasmer, Dunod, 2012, 192 p.
ANASTASIOU Dimitris, GRIVA Eleni, 'Awareness of reading strategy use and reading
comprehension among poor and good readers¯, Elementar, Education Online, 2009, online :
BEAUVOIS Jean-Léon, 'La démocratie médiatique : en route pour un totalitarisme tranquille¯,
Libéralisme - Démocraties, September 2012, online : http://liberalisme-democraties-debat-
DANNON Vick, 'Wave-Particle Duality: de BroglieWaves and Uncertainty¯, Gauge Institute Journal
Vol. 2 No 4, November 2006, online :
DURANDIN Guy, 'L'information, La désinformation et la réalité¯, Re·ue d'études comparati·es Est-
Ouest. Volume 25, 1994, N°1. pp. 169-170.
ECKERSLEY Peter, 'How unique is your web browser?¯, Proceedings of the Privacy Enhancing
Technologies Symposium (PETS), Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science, May 2010, online :
EVERAERT - DESMEDT Nicole, 'La sémiotique de Peirce ', in Louis Hébert (dir.), Signo,
Rimouski (Québec), online :
FOURQUET-COURBET Marie-Pierre, 'Un siècle de théories de l'innuence : histoire du procès des
médias¯, MEI « Médiation et inJormation », nº 10, 1999, online :
GAGNON Tinany, 'The Disinhibition of Reddit Users¯, Adele Richardson's Spring 2013, online :
KOEFOED HANSEN Lone, LOMANN STEPHENSEN Jan, 'The Free Universal Construction Kit:
On Appropriation and Parasites¯, Selected Papers oJ Internet Research, 2013, online :
LAPIDOT-LEFLER Noam, BARAK Azy, 'Enects of anonymity, invisibility, and lack of eye-contact
on toxic online disinhibition¯, Computers in Human Beha·ior Vol. 28, Issue 2, March 2012, online :
MAUREL Lionel, 'Open Trademark : des Creative Commons du droit des marques auraient-ils un
sens?¯, SCINFOLEX, October 2013, online :
SANDRI Eva, 'La sérendipité sur Internet : égarement documentaire ou recherche créatrice?¯ , C,gne
noir, no 1, 2013, online :
SERVIGNE Pable, 'Six obstacles à franchir pour penser les biens communs¯, Barricade, 2013,
online :
STONE Linden, 'Revising Attitudes To Physical Reality : Quantum Physics and Visual Art¯,
International Journal oJ Arts & Sciences, 2012, online :
TEZUKA Taro, TANKA Katsumi, 'Traveling in digital archive world : sightseeing metaphor
framework for enhancing user experiences in digital libraries¯, Springer-Verlag Berlin, December
2005, pp. 23-32, online : http:/
TOPALOVIC Peter, "How Can a Person's Digital Identity be Managed and Protected? An inquiry
into the social, ethical and political implications of digital Identity¯, Communications 1echnolog, and
Public Polic,, December 2007.
WADE Suzanne, REYNOLDS Ralph, 'Developing meta-cognitive awareness¯, Journal oJ Reading
Vol. 33, No. 1, Wiley, pp. 6-14.
WOLF Marco, McQUITTY Shaun, 'Understanding the Do-It-Yourself Consumer: DIY Motivation
and Outcomes¯, Academ, oJ Marketing Science Re·iev, 2011
BERGERE Sylvain, GOETZ Julien, MANACH Jean-Marc, Une contre histoire de l´internet, June
2013, online :
LESSIG Lawrence, Lavs that choke creati·it,, TEDx 2007, March 2007, online :
STALLMAN Richard, Free soJtvare, Free societ,, TEDx Geneva : : Freedom (@ digital age), April
7 2014, online :
SEEMEL Gwenn, In deJense oJ imitation, TEDx Geneva : Freedom (@ digital age), April 7 2014,
online :
MOORE J.T.S., Re·olution OS (GNU, Linux, FOSS), 2001 :
PALEY Nina, Intellectual disobedience, Conference about civil disobedience at Brooklyn Law
School's Incubator & Policy Clinic (BLIP), April 15th 2012, online :
PALEY Nina, Make art, not lav, Pecha Kucha talk given in Champaign, IL., December 2013, online :
STALLMAN Richard, Cop,right ·ersus Communit,, lecture at Reykjavik University, November 7th
2012, online :
STANNARD Russel, 1he va·e particle paradox - Boundaries oJ the Knovable,, Department of
Physical Sciences, The Open University, February 25

2010, online :
Creative Commons :
Dark Patterns :
Defective by design (FSF) :
Electronic Frontier Foundation :
FAB Central (MIT) :
F.A.T Lab :
Free Software Foundation :
GNU project :
Internet Archive :
Scinfolex :
Sharelex :
Wikimedia Foundation :
Why metadata matters, by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (2013)
'nne$e #
Campaign for privacy by the Free Software Foundation (2013)
'nne$e %
Berlin protest on September 07 2013. Picture by the German Pirate Party to protest against the NSA
surveillance, with a playful reference to the GNU system. Source :
'nne$e +
Informational now by Nina Paley
Submission to
copyright law
threatening the
creative process
(Paley, 2014)
'nne$e 1
The battle of copyright, by Christopher Dombres
'nne$e 4
Lincoln Logs and Lego (picture 1) and K'Nex and Legos (picure 2) connected thanks to the
Free Universal Construction Kit
'nne$e 5
'nne$e 9
FSF's picture of iBad with branded design and fonts in order to favor the brand recognition and the
subversive message's penetration of the individuals' mind via the solicitation of their cognitive nuidity
'nne$e :
'Cryptoïd monkeys¯ and Telecomix logo standing for, at least, 47 dinerent interpretations (Okhin,
'nne$e ;
Mimi and Eunice comic strip by Nina Paley :