Ensemble: Exploring Complementary Strengths of Leaders and Crowds in Creative Collaboration

7b3ebb7ef9f7af9784a4116ae9cad12c?s=47 Joy Kim
February 18, 2014

Ensemble: Exploring Complementary Strengths of Leaders and Crowds in Creative Collaboration

In story writing, the diverse perspectives of the crowd could support an author's search for the perfect character, setting, or plot. However, structuring crowd collaboration is challenging. Too little structure leads to unfocused, sprawling narratives, and too much structure stifles creativity. Motivated by the idea that individual creative leaders and the crowd have complementary creative strengths, we present an approach where a leader directs the high-level vision for a story and articulates creative constraints for the crowd. This approach is embodied in Ensemble, a novel collaborative story-writing platform. In a month-long short story competition, over one hundred volunteer users on the web started over fifty short stories using Ensemble. Leaders used the platform to direct collaborator work by establishing creative goals, and collaborators contributed meaningful, high-level ideas to stories through specific suggestions. This work suggests that asymmetric creative contributions may support a broad new class of creative collaborations.

Presented at CSCW 2014.

7b3ebb7ef9f7af9784a4116ae9cad12c?s=128

Joy Kim

February 18, 2014
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  1. Ensemble: Exploring Complementary Strengths of Leaders and Crowds in Creative

    Collaboration Joy Kim, Justin Cheng, and Michael Bernstein Stanford HCI Group
  2. Story

  3. Passive consumers Story

  4. Active contributors Story

  5. ? Could the crowd write the great collaborative novel?

  6. Completely open approach prevents convergence to a single creative vision

    Mason, B. and Thomas, S. A Million Penguins research report. 2008.
  7. FoldingStory. http://foldingstory.com. Highly structured & linear approach results in patchwork

    stories
  8. Too much or too little structure makes stories incoherent

  9. Constraints can inspire new ideas and make it easier to

    coordinate creative work Stokes, P. Creativity from constraints: the psychology of breakthrough. 2005.
  10. Creative professionals continually revise goals to develop purpose for a

    work McKee, R. Substance, structure, style, and the principles of screenwriting. 1997. Flower, L. and Hayes, J.R. A cognitive process theory of writing. 1981. Stokes, P. Creativity from constraints: the psychology of breakthrough. 2005. Constraints can inspire new ideas and make it easier to coordinate creative work
  11. Leader Creates goals to direct work Crowd Fleshes out story

    based on goals
  12. A leader provides goals, while others flesh out ideas

  13. A leader provides goals, while others flesh out ideas

  14. Thom-Santelli, J. et al. What’s mine is mine: territoriality in

    collaborative authoring. 2009. Wikipedia also has (unofficial) user roles and leaders Welser, H.T. et al. Finding social roles in Wikipedia. 2008.
  15. How can we make crowds creative? Distributing leadership Collaboration through

    remixing Live editing and communication Hill, B. M. & Monroy-Hernandez, A. The cost of collaboration for code and art: evidence from a remixing community. 2013. Luther, K. et al. Redistributing leadership in online creative collaboration. 2013. Tomlinson, B. et al. Massively distributed authorship of academic papers. 2012. Yu, L. & Nickerson, J. V. Cooks or cobblers?: crowd creativity through combination. 2011. Settles, B. & Dow, S. Let’s get together: the formation and success of online creative collaborations.
  16. The crowd and the individual have complementary creative strengths ensemble

  17. Collaborators submit work based on prompts and can discuss the

    prompt with others Lead authors can declare winning contributions Lead authors start stories with an outline And direct collaborator work using prompts How should he escape from the hot air balloon?
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  22. Does dividing creative responsibility produce successful collaborations? Stanford Story Slam

    The Arrowhead Project April 2013 20 stories by 52 authors in small teams October 2013 One 9-chapter story by two authors and a large audience
  23. 100 users started 55 stories 20 stories submitted to competition

    Team size ranged from 1 to 7 people (median of 2)
  24. The story behind 300 missing bikes

  25. The story behind 300 missing bikes

  26. None
  27. Despite division of creative responsibility in Ensemble, the spread of

    work was balanced Mean Gini coefficient of 0.286 (SD = 0.194) across 20 submitted stories
  28. “ Leaders extracted high-level ideas from others to tweak their

    own writing …for the one that another person submitted for the story I submitted, I didn't end up using [their contribution], but it helped me pinpoint things that I liked and didn't like in both my version and theirs.
  29. “ …but as benevolent dictators Leaders maintained creative authority …I

    let her know in the comments that, ‘Look, I like the suggestions, but at this point I kind of know what I'm doing with the prose, so I would rather get suggestions with the plot elements, character motivations, things like that.
  30. Used leader-provided prompts to focus work Contributors offered high-level ideas

    through low-level work “ …it still was really rewarding… because the way the website's set up helps that whole first draft, peer critiques, second draft process go smoothly and in little, manageable sections.
  31. Contributors offered high-level ideas through low-level work “ It's harder

    to describe what you want to do than just do it. So you could do it and have them look at it… [instead of them] criticizing their picture of what it is rather than your picture.
  32. •  Two researchers independently rated 20 submitted stories (κ =

    0.8) •  No correlation between story quality and •  division of work (r(18) = 0.385, p = 0.093) •  team size (r(18) = 0.069, p = 0.7715) Story quality and team strategy
  33. Contributors offered high-level ideas through low-level work Leaders maintained creative

    authority
  34. The Arrowhead Project What if a large crowd focused on

    one story?
  35. Viewed 6099 times by 1107 unique visitors, but only 30

    comments and no contributed paragraphs
  36. Arrowhead Prompt Story Slam Prompt Are expert writers better at

    managing story goals?
  37. Leaders provide structure Crowds explore creative space Extend to other

    mediums
  38. http://ensemble.stanford.edu Questions? Joy Kim jojo0808@stanford.edu