Generative systems

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Generative systems are technologies with the overall capacity to produce unprompted change driven by large, varied, and uncoordinated audiences.[1] When generative systems provide a common platform, changes may occur at varying layers (physical, network, application, content) and provide a means through which different firms and individuals may cooperate indirectly and contribute to innovation.[2]

Depending on the rules, the patterns can be extremely varied and unpredictable. One of the better-known examples is Conway's Game of Life, a cellular automaton. Other examples include Boids and Wikipedia.[3] More examples can be found in generative music, generative art, and, more recently, in video games such as Spore.


Jonathan Zittrain[edit]

In 2006, Jonathan Zittrain published The Generative Internet in Volume 119 of the Harvard Law Review.[1] In this paper, Zittrain describes a technology's degree of generativity as being the function of four characteristics:

  • Capacity for leverage – the extent to which an object enables something to be accomplished that would not have otherwise be possible or worthwhile.
  • Adaptability – how widely a technology can be used without it needing to be modified.
  • Ease of mastery – how much effort and skill is required for people to take advantage of the technology's leverage.
  • Accessibility – how easily people are able to start using a technology.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Zittrain, Jonathan (May 2006). "The Generative Internet". Harvard Law Review. JSTOR 4093608.
  2. ^ Robin Teigland; Dominic Power (25 March 2013). The Immersive Internet: Reflections on the Entangling of the Virtual with Society, Politics and the Economy. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-137-28302-3.
  3. ^ Zittrain, Jonathan (Jonathan L.), 1969- (2008). The future of the Internet and how to stop it. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-14473-4. OCLC 289029003.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]