Pierre Lévy (Tunis, 1956) is a French philosopher, cultural theorist and media scholar who specializes in the understanding of the cultural and cognitive implications of digital technologies and the phenomenon of human collective intelligence. He is known most notably for his book Cyberculture published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2001 and the collective intelligence concept he introduced in 1994 in his book L'intelligence collective. Pour une anthropologie du cyberspace (Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace). Lévy's 1995 book, Qu'est-ce que le virtuel? (translated as Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age) develops philosopher Gilles Deleuze's conception of "the virtual" as a dimension of reality that subsists with the actual but is irreducible to it.
Pierre Lévy currently teaches at the communication department of the University of Ottawa (Canada), where he holds a Canada Research Chair in Collective Intelligence. Lévy is fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and received several awards and academic distinctions.
Life and work
Pierre Lévy is one of the few major philosophers working on the implications of cyberspace and digital communications. Lévy has written a dozen of books that have been translated in more than 12 languages and are studied in many universities all over the world. His principal work, published in French in 1994 and translated into English, is entitled Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace.
As early as 1990 Lévy published a book about the merging of digital networks and hypertextual communication. Levy's theory of knowledge spaces and the cosmopedia foreshadowed the emergence of Wikipedia and anticipates wikinomics, and the efficacy of shared distributed knowledge systems.
From 1993 to 1998 Lévy was Professor at the University of Paris VIII, where he studied the concept of collective intelligence and knowledge-based societies. He has contributed to many scholarly discourses about cyberculture.
He was a member of the editorial board of the Revue virtuelle project of the Pompidou Center in Paris from 1995 to 1997 and was the author of a report on cyberculture for the Council of Europe in 1996.
In the chapter Interactivity from his book Cyberculture (2001), Lévy argues that analogue communication (telephone, mail) differs from digital communication (email, chat rooms) in terms of temporal organization and material involvement of their communication systems. He claims that interactivity is a vague term that "has more to do with finding the solution to a problem, the need to develop new ways to observe, design, and evaluate methods of communication, than it does with identifying a simple, unique characteristic that can be assigned to a given system". Henry Jenkins, amongst others, cites him as an important influence on theories of online collective intelligence.
In Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age Lévy explores the way we virtualise every aspect of our lives, from real time (media) interaction through language, to our actions through technology, and our social relations through institutions. And in each case the mechanism is the same: we create some artifact, more or less material, which allows us to shift what's at stake away from the immediate here-and-now and towards a problematic where new possibilities open up.
Lévy's current project, the Collective Intelligence Lab, focuses on the development of an Information Economy Meta Language (IEML) for the purposes of improving knowledge management as part of his works on the design of a universal system for semantic addressing of digital documents.
- Licence MA, Sorbonne
- PhD, EHESS Paris
- Habilitation (PhD) in sciences of information and communication, Université de Grenoble
- Lévy P., L’Œuvre de Warren McCulloch, in «Cahiers du CREA», 7, Paris 1986, pp. 211–255
- Id., Analyse de contenu des travaux du Biological Computer Laboratory (BCL), in «Cahiers du CREA», 8, Paris 1986, pp. 155–191.
- Id., La Machine Univers. Création, cognition et culture informatique, La Découverte, Paris 1987.
- Id., Les Technologies de l’intelligence. L’avenir de la pensée à l’ère informatique, La Découverte, Paris 1990.
- Id., L’idéographie dynamique. Vers une imagination artificielle?, La Découverte, Paris 1991.
- Id., Authier M., Les Arbres de connaissances, La Découverte, Paris 1992.
- Id., Le cosmos pense en nous, in «Chimères», XIV, 1992, poi in Id., Chambat P. (a cura di), Les Nouveaux Outils de la pensée, Éditions Descartes, Paris 1992.
- Id., De la programmation considérée comme un des beaux-arts, La Découverte, Paris 1992.
- Id., L’Intelligence collective. Pour une anthropologie du cyberespace, La Découverte, Paris, 1994.
- Id., Qu’est-ce que le virtuel?, La Découverte, Paris 1995.
- Id., Cyberculture. Rapport au Conseil de l’Europe dans le cadre du projet “Nouvelles technologie: coopération culturelle et communication”, Odile Jacob, Paris 1997.
- Id., Labrosse D., Le Feu libérateur, Arléa, Paris 1999.
- Id., World Philosophie: le marché, le cyberespace, la conscience, Odile Jacob, Paris 2000.
- Id., Cyberdémocratie. Essai de philosophie politique, Odile Jacob, Paris 2002.
- Id., The Semantic Sphere 1. Computation, Cognition and the Information Economy, ISTE / Wiley, London and NY, 2011.
- Id., Société du savoir et développement humain, in P. Imbert (a cura di), Le Canada et la société des savoirs, CR Université d’Ottawa, Ottawa 2007, pp. 115–175.
- Id., Toward a Self-referential Collective Intelligence: Some Philosophical Background of the IEML Research Program, First International Conference, ICCCI 2009, Wroclaw (Poland) 10.2009, in N.N. Than, K. Ryszard, C. Shyi-Ming (a cura di), Computational Collective Intelligence, Semantic Web, Social Networks and Multi-agent Systems, Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg-NY 2009, pp. 22–35.
- Id., Algebraic Structure of IEML Semantic Space, CI Lab Technical Report, 2009, http://www.ieml.org/spip.php?article152.
Studies on Pierre Lévy
- Berardi F., Mutazioni e cyberpunk, Costa & Nolan, Genova 1994.
- Id., (a cura di), Cibernauti. Tecnologia, comunicazione, democrazia, Castelvecchi, Roma 1996.
- Corchia L., La teoria degli spazi antropologici di Pierre Lévy, in «The Lab’s Quarterly», 3, 2007.
- Id., La democrazia nell’era di Internet. Per una politica dell’intelligenza collettiva, Le Lettere, Firenze 2011.
- de Kerckhove D. , La pelle della cultura. Un’indagine sulla nuova realtà elettronica, Costa & Nolan, Genova 1996.
- Id. , L’intelligenza connettiva. L’avvento della Web society, Aurelio De Laurentiis multimedia, Milano 1999.
- Rizza G., L’intelligenza collettiva di Pierre Lévy, Zerobook, Roma 2007.
- Rodotà S., Tecnopolitica. La democrazia e le nuove tecnologie della comunicazione, Laterza, Roma-Bari 1997, 20042.
- L'intelligence collective. Pour une anthropologie du cyberspace, Paris, La Découverte, 1994 (ISBN 2-7071-2693-4)
- Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace ISBN 0-7382-0261-4 Perseus, 1999.
- Levy, Pierre (1997). Collective Intelligence. New York and London: Plenium Trade. pp. 215–220. ISBN 0306456354. ". In the fourth space, "the subject of knowledge is shaped by its encyclopedia."
- Cochran, Terry (1999). "Thinking at the Edge of the Galaxy: Pierre Levy's World Projection". Boundary. 26 2 (3): 63–85. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
- Lévy, Pierre. "Cyberculture". Univ. of Minnesota Press. 2001, p. 228. (ISBN 0816636109)
- List of full text articles by Pierre Lévy by the eLibrary Project (eLib.at)
- Interview of Pierre Levy by Denis failly about IEML
- press release
- IEML homepage
- Pierre Levy on Twitter
- "Collective Intelligence" in Spanish, translated by the pan-american health organization
- Portuguese and French texts by Pierre Lévy
- Conferences - videos - by Pierre Lévy
- Cyberculture (2001)
- Luca Corchia, La teoria degli spazi antropologici di Pierre Lévy. Verso una filosofia politica dell’intelligenza collettiva, in «Il Trimestrale del Laboratorio. The Lab's Quarterly», Pisa, Dipartimento di Scienze Sociali, 3, 2007, ss. 22.