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Giulia Pullano
The dynamics of social interactions in a collective creativity experiment


The study of the dynamics behind the emergence of novelties and inno- vation is a relatively recent field of study in complex systems, fostered by the abundance of data about the creations and sharing of artworks and about on-line activity in general. Despite this recentness, many works have been able to discover and characterise several interesting statistical patterns related to the emergence of new creative elements and a very general mathematical framework describing the collective process of di- scovering and sharing novelties come out. However, still a lot has to be discovered concerning the conditions, either historical and social, fostering the emergence of creative elements from a group of interacting individuals. From a social perspective, many hypotheses have been developed and te- sted concerning the relations between individual like the presence of ?weak ties? in social networks or the ?folding? of different social groups into a larger one sharing a common goal. Complex Systems Science has given lit- tle contributions to the understanding of how the dynamics behind social interactions contributes to foster the emergence of creativity. This work of thesis is devoted to the analysis of data collected during a collective social experiment in which individuals were asked to collaborate in the realisation of a set of LEGO bricks sculptures. The participants to the experiments were provided with particular RFID tags, developed in the framework of the SOCIOPATTERNS project, that enabled a quite precise mapping of the social interactions occurring during their activity within the experiment. The interaction with the LEGO Sculptures were similarly mapped by means of other RFID tags placed around the sculptures, and their growth in volume has been recorded with the aid of infra-red depth sensors. The RFID sensors allowed for a reconstruction of the dynamical network of social interactions between the participants in the experiment. We looked for correlations between the evolving structure of this social net- work and the growing patterns of the sculptures, spotting the local social structures more prone for a rapid growth of the volume in small amounts of times and in long term periods. In this way, we were able to identify the social patterns more fruitful in terms of ?local consensus? around the development of the collective artwork, indicating a shared vision around the actions to be performed on it. Moreover, we were able to identify how the presence of ‘influential individuals’ characterised by means of information spreading models favoured the growth of the sculptures in the long-term. The novelty behind the proposed approach could contribute to shed light on the phenomena related to creativity and could be useful in conceiving and designing new collecting creativity experiments.