CreatingCommunities (ThoughtStorms)

Context : SocialInterfaces

ClayShirky (in says the following :

Groups undermine their primary purpose with :

You must accept

You must design for

Thoughts :

Something else just struck me on Shirky's "conservatism" as I was writing the response to TeleDyn on GroupAsUser. What it sounds like Shirky is saying is that a social group needs some kind of structure. It can't be a creamed homogenous mass. In fact communities must be AutoPoieticSystems or simply fall apart. (Tautologies R Us, huh? :-) Actually who was it argued that any population of identical units must self-organize a higher-level structure because conditions for the edge units would be different from conditions in the centre? Anyway, the point is that inequality will (inevitably) emerge, and (Shirky's point) is a prerequisite for the community being able to preserve itself.

: Phil, are you aware of a difference of opinion between Varela and Maturana on whether the business/social group can be considered autopoietic? Maybe I read it wrong, can't remember where just now :( kk

: No. Actually, I've never read Varela and Maturana's book. It's one of those things I keep meaning to when I get a) the money to buy it, and b) the time to read it. Can you elaborate? Or (when you remember) point me at any online references? Cheers -- PhilJones

: Phil - I wonder if you know TheTyrannyOfStructurelessness. It is a quite old essay on the inevitability of social structure in a group and the danger of letting the structure to stay informal, because an informal structure is much less accountable. -- ZbigniewLukasiak

: Excellent point. I do have that essay linked here somewhere but I can't remember where. Doh! So much for my information architecture skills. :-( PhilJones


There's an excellent series of articles on AutoPoiesis at the ACM, a few years old, but good..

: Thanks, great link. My first response : isn't there a way to synthesize Varela's and Maturana's position if the "roles" are the components. This would lead to a sys-referential approach like Luhmann but not loosing the human element. Or at least not the role performed by the human within the social system. Yet clearly the organization does "produce" the roles. -- PhilJones

The book TheTreeOfKnowledge sums it up nicely (without equations :), though it's still not an 'easy' read (as BrianGreene can write so eloquently about Quantum theory). Another book which recaps the social aspects of the theory and provides an excellent background to the other emerging (cough) new/recursive sciences is FritjofCapra's TheWebOfLife.

With special regard to communities I love the way there's much learning from other sciences (Biology, anthropoligy, psychology - WilfredBion as cited by Shirky) etc., though none of them come up against the lack of non-verbals present online. From the field of business LarryGreiner's FivePhasesOfGrowth model seems to link up nicely with DunbarsNumber, at least in terms of limiting factors - not so much that we need structure but that the needs change over time, plus the idea that crisis is par-for-the-course (we're far from equilibrium, healthy conflict etc.). It all links up so nice, at least in a wiki :) -- kk

: Interesting. But what do you mean by the "lack of non-verbals present online"? What's the significance here? -- PhilJones

"failure" of EBay ratings system, sellers use negative comments on buyers to retaliate for bad reviews :

Example : PaulGraham on HackerNews :

See also

: compare the arguments over at BurningMan/ArtVsCommunity as an example of the challanges facing communities as an example of the problems Shirky says all communities face

CategorySocialSoftware, CategoryPolitics