(2008-06-28) Kelly Scenius

Kevin Kelly on the Scenius concept. Brian Eno suggested the word to convey the extreme Creativity that groups, places or "scenes" can occasionally generate. His actual definition is: "Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the Genius." Social Network scale? Scenius can erupt almost anywhere, and at different scales: in a corner of a company, in a neighborhood, or in an entire region. (EcoSystem?)

The geography of scenius is nurtured by several factors:

  • Mutual appreciation: the best of peer pressure
  • Rapid exchange of tools and techniques
  • Network effects of success
  • Local tolerance for the novelties

The history of art and science is crammed with episodes of scenius. In modern literature there was the Algonquin Round Table, the Bloomsbury Group, the Inklings in Oxford, UK. In art there was Paris in the 20s, the lofts in Soho, NYC, and Burning Man recently. In science there was the Lunar Society in England, Building 20 at MIT, or the ever-spreading Silicon Valley. (see Scenes, Collaborations, Inventions, And Progress)

Although many have tried many times, it is not really possible to command scenius into being.

the best you can do is NOT KILL IT. When it pops up, don’t crush it. When it starts rolling, don’t formalize it. When it sparks, fan it. But don’t move the scenius to better quarters. Try to keep accountants and architects and police and do-gooders away from it. Let it remain inefficient, wasteful, edgy, marginal, in the basement, downtown, in the ‘burbs, in the hotel ballroom, on the fringes, out back

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