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Contents contributed and discussions participated by Ferananda Ibarra

Ferananda Ibarra

Network organisation for the 21st century : turbulence - 4 views

  • On the Virtues of Being Popular In any network, some nodes are more connected than others, making them ‘hubs’. This is a recurring pattern in the evolution of successful networks, ranging from the world wide web to many natural ecosystems. A ‘hub’ is not just a node with a few more connections than a usual node; a hub has connections to many other nodes – many quite distant – and also connects many disparate nodes (nodes of very different types). If you were to count all the connections each node has, you would get a mathematical distribution called a ‘power-law’ distribution with relatively few hyper-connected nodes – hubs – and a ‘long tail’ of less connected nodes.
  • Unlike networks that have a normal or random distribution of connections, networks that have a power-law distribution of connections are ‘scale-free,’ which means that no matter how many more nodes are added to the network, the dynamics and structure remain the same. This seems to be a sweet spot in the evolution of networks for stability and efficiency. The network can get bigger without drastic changes to its function.
  • The Surprising Strength of the Long Tail There is a looming contradiction: how can we have hubs and still have a strong network of dense connections that is not dependent on them? Don’t hubs lead to the emergence of permanent, entrenched leaders, centralisation and other well-documented problems? There is something of a tension here: the point is not simply that we should develop hubs, but that we have to simultaneously ensure that the hubs are never allowed to become static, and that they’re at least partially redundant. Sounds complicated, but healthy and resilient networks aren’t characterised simply by the presence of hubs, but also by the ability of hubs to change over time, and the replacement of previous hubs by apparently quite similar hubs.
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  • The long tail does not drop off into nothingness (which would be the ‘exponential’ rather than ‘power-law’ distribution), where there are a few hubs and every other node has almost no connections. Instead, the long tail is extensive, consisting of small groups of dense connections, going ever onwards. In fact, the vast majority of the connections in the network are not in the hub, but in the long tail. One clear example is that of book-selling in the 21st century: the majority of’s book sales are not in the best-seller list, but in those millions of titles in the long tail that only a few people order. Every successful movement must be built on dense local connections. It is these dense local connections that support the dynamic creation of hubs.
  • In a perfect world, every node would be a hub – we would all easily connect with any other person and be able to communicate. However, creating connections takes time and energy, so nodes that are more long-standing or just have more spare time will naturally become hubs
  • The Construction of Collective Intelligence Hubs tend to evolve naturally in well-functioning networks – but we can accelerate the process of network development
  • Collective intelligence requires a commons of collective representations and memory accessible to the network, and so digital representations on the internet are idea
    • Ferananda Ibarra
      That is exactly what they can do! Currencies as currents, as symbols of value enabling and making flows visible. Allowing us to see the tracks of the pheromones, the activities, the streams, the right signals, the hubs. We will be able to measure, trace value much more precisely. We will then be able to compose flows into landscapes (scapes) of that which is interesting for a node, for a hub, for a group or machine. Scapes will allow us to display information in unimaginable ways. Our collective intelligence right there, in the blink of an eye. We will be able to see wholes instead of parts, make patterns more visible.
  • You can imagine this on an individual level: a person using their mobile phone to remember the phone numbers of their friends. With easy access and reliability, the phone almost seems part of your intelligence. Just extend this so that the part of your mind that is extended into the environment is accessible and even modifiable by other people, and collective intelligence begins.
  • This use of the environment to store collective intelligence allows for the easier creation of hubs.
  • Collective intelligence allows highly organised successful actions to be performed by individuals who, with limited memory and knowledge, would otherwise be unable to become hubs.
  • Unfortunately people can’t become hubs without largely re-inventing the wheel. It might be irritating for existing hubs, but it’s true. Being a hub requires more than just introductions, it requires information, skills, knowledge, and a memory of the past. However, we can accelerate this process by decentring as much of the connections and knowledge as possible away from individual humans and onto the environment, whether this environment be books, websites, songs, maps, videos, and a myriad of yet un-thought-of representational forms. A useful example is the pheromone trace of the ant, reinforced as more ants use a particular trail. The mere act of ‘leaving a trail’ shows how individuals with limited memory can use the shaping of the environment as an external memory.
  • A key focus for improving our collective intelligence would be a few central websites compiling analyses of social movements and events, alongside practical pieces from key hubs and organisers on how particular events were pulled off. A collective ratings approach would allow people to quickly find needles in the electronic haystack, via Digg-It-style ‘I like this article’ tags, or collaborative bookmarking, allowing different users to see each other’s bookmarked webpages. Of course some of these types of things exist, with tagging systems well developed on sites of magazines, newspapers and blogs. However, no current website performs the function of an analysis and learning hub
  • If we are to act swiftly and sustain momentum we will need to create collective intelligence – the ability to create accurate records of events, distribute them widely, analyse success and failure, and to pass on skills and knowledge.
Ferananda Ibarra

Crowdmap - 1 views

    Monitor election, crisis or other crowd events or phenomena
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