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Monday, March 10, 2003

Dee Hock on Emergent Democracy
An email from Dee Hock about the emergent democracy paper.

Dee Hock, the founder of VISA and well known for his work on leadership and "chaordics" wrote me an very thoughtful email in response to my emergent democracy paper. He talks about blogging, the Internet, VISA, culture, democracy, power, corporations, leadership and many issues that are relevant to our current discussion. [Joi Ito's Web]

It is futile to directly challenge such institutions, political or commercial, for they have an oligopoly on power, money and instruments of compulsion. Nor do they hesitate to use them if threatened. However, they will prove to be vulnerable, rusted out hulks if confronted with new and better ideas of organization which transcend and enfold them. Ideas that excite the very people they expect to remain passive. What they cannot resist is the searchlight of informed public opinion. Once the public begins to withdraw relevance from them they are helpless, as Gandhi so ably demonstrated in India. While I don't begin to understand Blogging, your paper set something turning in the back of my mind that whispers it may be one of the keys to the puzzle.

11:16:14 AM    comment []

SXSW: Effective Social Networks

Heath Row has been on fire transcripting the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference.  Also see David Weinberger's posts.

Adina Levin from Socialtext participated on an Effective Social Networks panel.  See Heath and David's coverage. 

Adina: ...Part of the tradition of groupware is to build a complicated set of tools. If you look at what people have used over the years, even in the orgs that have a lot of money, people use email more than anything else. The simple tools often work the best.

I also want to talk about the idea of how groups form out of a network. SocialText grew out of a group of people who met through a quasi-professional network. That group is a networking group that doesn't have any particular goal or purpose. But a member sent a message to the group about a business opportunity that involved using blogs within corporations. Blogs are the simplest way for an individual to publish online. We also looked at how people could use Wikis. Wikis are one of the simplest way to collaborate online. We run SocialText using the tools that we're researching for our clients... [Heath]

9:35:29 AM    comment []

Political Economy of Group Communications

Clay Shirky's latest newsletter is on Social Software and the Politics of Groups, another must read.

Oh...and now he has an RSS feed, so he is compatible with blogspace despite claims to the contrary.

He starts with a broad and simple definition of Social Software: software that supports group communications.  The thrust of his piece is that group communications have a social tension that is mediated by systemic political economy:

...Social interaction creates a tension between the individual and the

group. This is true of all social interaction, not just online....

Any system that supports groups addresses this tension by enacting a

simple constitution -- a set of rules governing the relationship

between individuals and the group. These constitutions usually work

by encouraging or requiring certain kinds of interaction, and

discouraging or forbidding others. Even the most anarchic

environments, where "Do as thou wilt" is the whole of the law, are

making a constitutional statement. Social software is political

science in executable form...

...Further complicating all of this are the feedback loops created when a

group changes its behavior in response to changes in software.

Because of these effects, designers of social software have more in

common with economists or political scientists than they do with

designers of single-user software, and operators of communal resources

have more in common with politicians or landlords than with operators

of ordinary web sites.


9:24:07 AM    comment []

Brain Waves: Neurons, Genes & Bits

Zack Lynch has launched a new Corante Blog called Brain Waves: neurons, genes & bits

He covers Neurotechnology and its societal impact.  This wave of technologies will change what it means to be human and drive economic growth any before.  Zack is a head of the curve in defining this wave and a Corante blog should further expose it.

It's Brain Awareness Week, go to his blog and use it.

7:44:06 AM    comment []

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