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Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Assembly Rules

Jim Moore follows up the Second Superpower, by begging one heck of a question:

In ecology there is a sub-field called Assembly Rules that seeks to understand the combinations of species that are required for a functioning ecosystem.  The field goes farther and looks for the sequences by which a few species can establish a foundation on which others can grow. Aspen trees stabilize nitrogen in the soil, making a place for hardwoods to follow.  Lichens break down volcanic rocks into a primitive soil, mosses and ferns follow.

I wonder, what are the assembly rules for emergent democracy?

One visible set of assembly rules in such an ecosystem could be open standards as a category of competition-rules.  When a standard is adopted by the ecosystem of vendors and users, it provides a space where absence of competition fosters certain kinds of community development.  RSS, for example, opened the floodgates for different communities to talk to each other.  A potential standard that would further emergent democracy would be vote links. It also enabled vendors to innovate on top of RSS and then engage in competition.  What standards do really well is form a basis of trust for a community to flourish.

3:56:28 PM    comment []

Scoped Collaboration

Jon Udell on scoped collaboration:

Back before there were blogs, my groupthink laboratory was the NNTP protocol, which I used at roughly four levels: workgroup (my new media development team at BYTE Magazine), department (the BYTE editorial team), company (all of BYTE), and world (BYTE's public newsgroups). I learned something then that was, and still is, quite difficult to describe -- but critically important. I call it the principle of scoped collaboration, and I illustrated it in a chapter of my book like so:

The crucial insight, for me, was that a new kind of skill is becoming relevant: the ability to make effective use of overlapping scopes. Here's how I put it then:

If I am seeking or sharing information, why do I need to be able to address a group of 3 (my team), or 300 (my company), or 300,000 (my company's customers), or 300 million (the Usenet)? At each level I encounter a group that is larger and more diffuse. Moving up the ladder I trade off tight affinity with the concerns of my department, or my company, for access to larger hive-minds. But there doesn't really have to be a tradeoff, because these realms aren't mutually exclusive. You can, and often should, operate at many levels. [Practical Internet Groupware]

Another great example of an emergent Ecosystem of Networks structure.  He goes on to describe how when someone makes use of different scopes they position themselves as routers.  This is similar to what some call community straddlers.  And how weblogs differ from other modes of communication in the ability to effectively share to a broader scope at less cost (time and spam).

3:03:32 PM    comment []

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