Local. Simple. Connected.

August 2, 2005 § Leave a comment

Spring Lake, near Verona, Canada

Over the weekend, I did a quick read of Steven Johnson‘s great book Emergence: the connected lives of ants, brains, cities and software.


Unsurprisingly, I stumbled across a number of things to keep in mind as we start to sow the seeds for the telecentre.org ecosystem we are imagining:

1.    Quote: Local information can lead to global wisdom. Encouraging people to make the right choices locally, and then providing chances to connect horizontally into other localities, makes it possible for good ideas to ripple through a network (or an ant colony, for that matter). Trying to come up with wisdom from the top down is either a waste of time or, worse, causes damage to the ecosystem. So, focus on enabling grassroots, mostly face-to-face telecentre networks first, and then thread things together regionally and globally.

2.    Quote: Emergent systems can grow unwieldy when their component parts become excessively complicated. There is (and will be) constant pressure to create online systems that incorporate every idea that we and our partners can dream up. Yet, success for the online bits of our work means staying SIMPLE. This means using tech that replicates fast (to create many locally-specific, event-specific and project-specific nodes) and is incredibly flexible (so people can adapt a single node without over complexifying the DNA used to create new nodes). We will really need to hold our ground on the value of simplicity!

Of course, the message of the whole book is really the point: strong, vibrant, human knowledge systems are built from the bottom up using organically emerging collective wisdom. This, of course, cannot be forced or manufactured … but it can be catalyzed.

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