Sunday, December 21, 2008

Surowiecki Shirky and BOWEGOV

Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody" provides some great input to our self governance effort. The book's observations are very bookmarkable - 'remarkable made reusable'... It builds on some of what James Surowiecki uncovered in 2004's Wisdom of Crowds.

James Surowiecki says distributed groups whose members aren't personally connected often generate better answers, as they pool both knowledge and intuitive wisdom without having to come to intrapersonal agreement. The k and iw are, as Peter Rawsthorne would say, 'tacit.'

Surowiecki recommended ( from the wikipedia entry):

* Keep your ties loose.
* Keep yourself exposed to as many diverse sources of information as possible.
* Make groups that range across hierarchies.


Chapter 11 of Shirky's book is called Promise, Tool, Bargain.

The Promise - is the basic WHY for joining and contributing to a social group. Linus Torvald got it right; others have too. A statement of intent that is neither daunting nor mundane, that satisfies a basic human need.

The Tool - What has to be satisfied is "Will I like using this tool" and "Will enough others be there, or use this, so that this thing succeeds?" There are slot of people using the Bowen Island Forum, but, Shirky says, smaller groups are better for convergent thinking. People seek agreement in smaller groups, and that is what they very good at. The Bowen Island Forum is arguably not a great tool for 'wisdom of crowds' self governance because it is about personal interaction.

The Bargain - The Bargain for Wikipedia was that the material created by writers could not be alienated from them - i.e. it couldn't belong to Wikipedia Inc.

BOWEGOV's tools are emergent, but we can think about what is the Bargain. Any thoughts?

Here's what I have on the Promise of BOWEGOV:

Exploring freedom in self governance

Seems the Open Source movement shares the same foundation as the Slow Food movement and the self governance movement.

The common foundation, platform: exploring the intrinsic value, the healthiness, the developmental benefit to feeding ourselves and our community, as opposed to being fed by a vendor or a government.

Chances are we will still rely on a municipal administration and elected officials and currency to get basic things - just like Slow Foodists usually dont mill their own flour. But we've gone overboard with the division of labor: industrialization of our food supply, the division of labor, and the professionalization of governance.

The really key things, like our meals, like what is going on in our backyard, like where our taxes go - these are too basic to give away.

3 comments:

Peter Rawsthorne said...

Great post! I like how you bring both Surowiecki and Shirky into this.
I think the small group point is really valuable. I look forward to keeping our ties loose as I believe it will allow for more innovative thoughts. Mark Granovetter (1973) spoke about the strength of loose ties leading to a greater diversity of ideas. But that doesn'e mean that we all shouldn't meet at the pub in the new year... ;)

Chris Flanagan said...

Agreed on small group too - (and nice reference to Granovetter Peter!)

We use the phrase "think big, start small, scale fast"

And while I believe that the most efficient networks are those that link to the broadest range of information, knowledge and experience, to get to that level of engagement, it's important to define the criteria for accessing the networks and targeting must play a key role.

I wrote an article a couple of years ago about P&G's Connect + Develop program - demonstrates the mountain of work underneath the strategy of outsourcing R&D. (It's here http://tinyurl.com/5j2hxx )

Happy holidays - Chris

MonkeyCatering said...
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