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Very nice post Helene. I agree with your thoughts. I think they accurately assess the world of collaboration as it is. Information holds the most value when composed from real life experiences rather than traditional schooling from fixed sources.

I see a problem using collaborative thought in real life however. In my experience, there seems to be a chasm between the thought and ideas, and the implementation of these ideas. There are numerous great online forums that accommodate collaborative vision formation - but where does it go from there.

Somewhere in the process someone has to have the plan to put this vision to practical use. That's the strength of traditional organizations. The ideas that come from them might be flawed ... but they get implemented. Even the collaborative revolution we saw in Egypt earlier this year didn't fully take form until the Muslim Brotherhood and their existing organization joined in. The students turned over tactical control to them in the decisive battle of the Kasr al-Nil Bridge which marked the turning point in the rebellion.

There is no shortage of great ideas that can probably change the face of the future of this world. Unfortunately, most of them are just ideas - even though they may have thousands if not millions of contributors. But someone needs to "take the bull by the horns" and channels them into a productive movements.

At present, it seem those that have the worst ideas - those in positions of power, have the strongest organizations to implement these ideas.

What we need is an "implementation template." A platform where our collaborative ideas can move from just ideas and visions to acting solutions. That I believe will be the next step in the evolution of "collaboration."


Thanks Clay. I totally agree. This is what was implied in my first "missing layer", the connection between big picture ideas or vision and actual implementation. Usually ideas are big, and actions must be small and local, hence the effectiveness of movements that can channel small actions into large outcomes.

Many of the organizations I mention in my post are constructed as movements, with a focus on action. They have clear rules and mechanisms, and a system in place for attracting members. Sometimes too strict of a structure to allow for creativity? There again there is the difficult question of balance between what you leave to spontaneous generation, and what you monitor -not to say control. One interesting feature of the Tom Malone's MIT research on the genetic structure of groups http://bit.ly/m8v0Fi is that it distinguishes the ideation/creation process from the organizational/decisionary.

The problem you mention arises when a project starts with a conversation without a structure -specific goals and milestones, decisionary process- for a start, these being established as the idea/conversation evolves. Then it is important to be able to access resources that can help bring the idea to action. Projects such as Transition Towns provides an "implementation template". In this respect, the case of Linux or Wikipedia are quite interesting to study.

Those in position of power indeed have the strongest organizations to implement these ideas -and that's why they are in my opinion the most important drivers for change-. If you take corporations for example, they are increasingly relying on collaboration to ensure the success of strategies that otherwise fail. I have written several posts on the subject.

There is however the risk of the crowds being abused... so continued trustworthiness and trust are key here... probably the hardest to get...

Patric Roberts

You said "The most valuable knowledge turns out to be more tacit (i.e acquired through experience, exchangeable through interaction, p2p) than formal (consultable in a database or library; learnt in school or legitimated by a degree), the likely most valuable skill becomes the ability to integrate knowledge and information in real time and make use of this tacit knowledge to act effectively. The capacity to channel, aggregate, debate, integrate, enrich, act upon and renew this ever-evolving tacit knowledge is the challenge we are facing now."

The possible possibility I envision in the P2P notion is a global living communication learning network bundling intentions of diverse expertise initiating rapidly formed networks as an innovative cooperative collaborative enterprise. Gathering human trust and harnessing human commitment is the task at hand in building a household for humanity.

My experience is the personhood of indigenous peoples provide a real time pure play of tacit wise learning. We are engaged in new learning events through current uncertainty regardless of our professional expertise or current activity.

I assess this P2P connectivity notion is the heart of our emergence in the 21st century. Once that unity in personhood begins to self organize and regulate itself, a robust rigorous economic emergent singularity can happen and the current breakdowns at the edge of chaos will become a walk in the park as we regain our human sensibilities of designing a future world together.

Thanks. Let's design a way to make new promises in joyful concern and wonder.


Thanks Patric. I have read the documents you sent me on Sunday. Interesting. In line with this! Keep me posted!


"What we need is an "implementation template." A platform where our collaborative ideas can move from just ideas and visions to acting solutions. That I believe will be the next step in the evolution of 'collaboration.'" - Clay Forsberg

You've hit on THE big issue. Moving from ideas to actions. That's what entrepreneurs do, turn ideas into outcomes.

The way to bridge the gap between micro and macro is to have a macro plan that includes measurable executable micro action. This serves as one way for one to understand the contribution of the micro actions towards the flow of the macro whole.

That's what seems to be missing in and around the space of p2p, collaboration, 21st-century economics, and the various embodiments of non-hiearchical work: seasoned entrepreneurship. Lots of ideas flowing around but not enough traction or plans that will work in practice.

We need a meta-movement with a meta-plan that we can each grab ahold of our own individual way.

There is enough that holds us together philosophically and with shared ideals and values. This will work.

Keep up the interesting work.

- Curtis


Thanks Curtis.

There is also a lot of entrepreneurial action going on out there that we do not necessarily know about, and that would deserve to be known in order to create contagion...

Indeed let's try to be on the look out on how to best channel all this.

Mark Janssen

Wow. You're asking for the very thing I've been busy trying to develop. I invite you to take a look at the two diagrams at pangaia.sf.net. One illustrates the macro-dynamic, the other the micro-dynamic.

They are, admittedly, a bit obtuse without the actual conversation that goes along with it, but it's being developed at the Santa Fe Complex. One of the ideas is that there must a *physical* place for all this to take effect; i.e., there must be integrated element which bridges the physical and virtual spaces *as well as* the macro and micro elements. Places to share garden produce, conduct seminars, etc.

In any case, the macro-view can be found under the title "macrocosm" and the micro-view under "structure". (Will be renaming that shortly!).

Take care,


Ray Shaw

Phew! Some article! Fascinated by your plug for Twitter: "Twitter which has become the number one source for accessing the right people, and exchanging/diffusing information and ideas in real time."
The great thing about the internet is that it gives, or can give, people 'voice'. As with any conversation their voice can be heard, or not.
When somebody learns to speak up or speak out, to express themselves, the way their voice is heard makes a difference. They may stay in the (public) conversation or drift out, no matter the level of their passion. This sometimes reflects a poverty of listening, sometimes it reflects a lack of esteem felt by the speaker. (The company they find themselves in is too 'high', too intellectual, or whatever).
Their passion does not wane. Rather, it remains hidden to public view. At a micro level they may well be taking action aligned with their passion - quietly, without any public acclamation.
'Bridging the gap between micro and macro'. I'm not sure what that means. How do we hold 'great debates' as well as empower individual action? The micro is sometimes the biggest action of all, dependent on the ripple or leverage effects. Just as, sometimes, the 'smallest conversation' makes so much difference.
'Moving from ideas to action' suggests a separation in the mind (& in our way of being). Thus actions have to be 'measured' in some way. The danger is that human doing gets separated from human being.
I like the idea of 'conversations when actions simply flow'. Perhaps better when we break down the distinction and see conversation as an action.
I then begin to ask myself is their power to my conversation (I don't mean shouting loudly!): Do I use conversation wisely and well? For the connection can be very close: Conversation informs my action. More than this it informs my very way of being in the moment.
The distinctions: conversation, being, and action break down. There is unity!
I sometimes think we have great technology for connectedness (truly quite remarkable) and very little connection. Just how do we meet, really meet?
How does a movement evolve from a remote, geographically dispersed 'crowd'? How do isolated individuals come together to make a difference? Is it the passion of: There must be something better than this?


Mark thanks! I had a look and will look more closely. Indeed, we are spot onto the same thing. The two must be linked to prevent walled gardens and to ensure that the closer knit local communities that will be burgeoning are open & interacting w/ each other & "in tune" with the wholeness of the vast world... Keep me posted!


Ray, I like your comment. You are so right about remarkable connectedness and scarce connection. Plugging in is not enough, the current needs to go through! And in the current, you have the ideas and the actions, the big and the small, the global and the local, and the list is long... As we touched upon in another conversation, this is about lots of people adding up small power with focus on a better world; grand design or aspiration & the detail in the execution; give a voice, stimulate choice; activity transformed into achievements... In the flow, there are some heralds that make things known to the right people. We need more of these too!



Appreciate your post!

I'm sensing an opportunity for the emergence of storyline containers, into which people can drag and drop Tweets and links to resources useful to the emergent narratives/projects.

These containers ideally can host other, constituent narratives, and in turn be inserted into proposed larger narratives.

A convo on a proposed framework for such "narrative fractals" is at


If elements of the proposed storyline patterns do indeed predictably generate associated emotional responses, it may be possible to auto-create storyline containers that can be later filled in by members of social networks.

This could begin by mining the Tweetstreams of online tribes for their emotionally-charged words.

Once gathered, any emotionally-laden tweets (expressing curiousity, tension, inspiration, hope, confidence, or resolve) could be mapped to their correlated elements of in a new narrative fractal (attractor, challenge, opportunity, strategy, test, or decision).

A color-coding system might also be developed for such co-created storyline containers, showing the extent of emotional "charge," and the degree to which a tribe considered each segment of the narrative fractal to be fulfilled.

A diagram relating to such a color-coding for narratives is here -


The biggest challenge may come with how to show nesting opportunities for each story, both at macro and microlevels. My hunch is that this can by coming up with a visual way for tribe members to show visible paths for possible "exaptive" connections between narrative factals. (A good definition of exaptive is at http://j.mp/9IoNRB ).

If a tribe likes a proposed exaptive link, this might trigger auto-creation of a new narrative fractal container that embeds (or nests) the current story into another.

What do you think?


Mark Frazier


Emergence or coincidence? I have been thinking of a website that could help people connect to work together on a common purpose (something like conducting a whole 4D appreciative inquiry process online to reach and convene a maximum of people around a same idea)

Now, mixing your idea and mine plus a bit of solution focus, I'd say that: things and project get done, successful projects are currently going on. If we have some kind of website to track them (and tag them), we can search for them (forget about knowing everything going on, internet overwhelmed our variety already, like Windows 7 that propose to search for files rather than sort them). Then we can let the website do the aggregation itself by identifying the most recurring themes & connections between themes.

It's said that "purpose of a system is what it does". So purpose of "System Earth" would be that represented by the most recurring themes as identified by the site (themes/tags of the projects referenced on the web site).

Macro would be the most recurring themes (forgetting about defining a purpose: it is what the system does).
Micro would be the projects/actions referenced on the website.

Presented like that, it looks no more than some form of directory to list project and assign them tags (a blog can do that already).

What do you think? I probably have reduced your idea's variety by far too much, but I find it so difficult to understand what others have in mind, especially through Internet...


Waoouh! Mark, this starts to become complicated for me! But I kind of visualize what you mean… I think... very intuitively... I like your narrative fractal idea even if I need to understand a little better this level of abstraction.

The containers, I would rather call say… fields or spheres… which would attract/receive connected activity... to differentiate from fixed “bucket” external forms in which by definition the contained becomes dormant or the recipient of some kind of waste (it’s my big reproach to facebook for example or any platform where the container becomes more important than what sets the content in tension/motion which is I assume what your narrative fractal does in various increments)… but hey, I have absolutely no idea what this vocabulary may be connected to…

This idea of the exaptive link is interesting, it’s a bit what I had in mind when alluding to twitter as a virtual plug: something acting as a connector and switch, holding the “genetic code” and/or the “pheromone” that would help these fields in-tension (full of energy & momentum) find and connect to each other? The challenge indeed is to show the paths and opportunities and the “exaption” in the making… in a very concrete down to earth basis.

Related to these ideas, I can offer Dorian Taylor’s article on Moving society passed information hegemony http://bit.ly/lhNB1T. Hey Dorian, if you read this don’t hesitate to chime in.

The other is Quid.com that identifies technology clusters based on text algorithms: http://quid.com/quid_in_the_news.html

Mark I will be following your question on Quora. And certainly will bring up the topic at Gathering11 in Melbourne. I saw you tweeted the link to John Hagel. Thanks! Keep me posted.


Bonjour Nicolas.

...the relationship between emergence & coincidence...

Actually, you're suggesting something along the lines of quid.com mentioned in my previous comment, coupled with an organic discussion facilitation process?

I think your "letting the web do the aggregation by itself" is most important. I was referring in other instances to the web as an enabler for ideas -memes?- to find their soul mates... and for actions -what's the "action" equivalent of memes?- to follow as a consequence, the macro being built by aggregation, and diffusing at the same time.

So we could avoid tagging, and directories? As Dorian mentions in his article (see my previous comment): a hi­er­ar­chy dis­solves into a net­work with­out a trace...


The purpose of my article was to construct a theoretical/historical underpinning for why things are the way they are today, and how they got to be so effective.

We can understand method as a cumulative endeavour. If a person learns a method to achieve a certain result it becomes a skill. If a person formalizes that skill into language it becomes a technology. The rate of the advancement of technology is completely subject to the capacity of society to remember it and make it accessible (i.e. computation, data storage and networking).

(Imagine a kitchen sink that is filling with water. If the drain is clear it may well empty faster than it can fill. This is analogous to the accumulation of technology. If you block the drain the sink will fill faster. Representational artifacts are the analogue to the plug in the drain.)

But what's interesting is how the tools shape us. In this case it pertains to information storage, transmission and retrieval. Before we learned how to decouple representations from physical objects, our representations were bound by physical objects, which have to follow certain rules like being in one place at once and not intersecting with one another. This I believe is the character of the available representational media feeding back to the agents who operate over it.

As such (in my opinion at least) it is plausible to state that Western society has adapted to suit the character of these representational artifacts (books, indexes, libraries, warehouses) in its compartmentalization of understanding. I should also note that having something in this space is better than having nothing (cf. the sink) which is what affords effective and efficient organization to achieve grandiose results.

It is only when we add computation, however, when we can afford more complex mathematical structures (lattices, graphs, algebras etc). Computation affords the amortization of representational state over time. That is to say that a series of spatial phenomena, with its orthogonality constraints, can be strung together to form a significantly more complex shape over time.

What this condition affords is organizational structures that behave more like how we think and less like static physical constructs.

So the notion of information hegemony is that an entity can broadcast a representational state without a mechanism for that state to be refuted, while at the same time other entities can do no broadcasting at all (itself the premier mechanism for refuting a broadcast representational state). This maps to the orthogonal hierarchy pattern found in (at least conceptually) static physical representational media such as books or television channels.

A (mathematical) tree is nothing more than a graph with orthogonality constraints. If you imagine the biological (computational) process that produces a real physical tree, you would observe that it grows, usually, in ways that don't intersect with itself. This is advantageous to the tree, for it is in the business of optimizing surface area for capturing sunlight.

Orthogonality is a constraint for any representational structure that persists over time. The abilities to represent intersection and simultaneity are benefits of computation.

Organizational structures are always bound by the cost of organizing itself. Pre-computational information technology (like books) only afforded a certain complexity of organization. We now have the capacity to handle arbitrarily more complex organizational structures. That was the underpinning concept behind the remark that a tree dissolves mathematically into a network.

Pamela McLean

Hi Helene. I appreciate your post. I agree that Open Collaboration could be defined as the next economic paradigm. I think it could also be the next higher education paradigm as well.

I believe that a very permeable membrane will develop between ongoing education/study/research and economic activity - especially as we move into a genuine post-web knowledge economy (rather than an economy which is still largely based on the thinking of traditional capitalist economic structures - but with digital technology as an add-on and accelerator etc). I hope formal accreditation at higher levels of education (and CVs and references etc) will give way to trust networks and digital histories of work done through open collaboration.

I believe the whole ethos and flavour of the post-web world could be one of collaboration and of co-creating knowledge. This includes working across disciplines and recognising where expertise lies - i.e. knowing "who-knows-what" so "I-don't-need-to-know that". I think that generalists will become increasingly valued for their role in enabling specialists from different disciplines to communicate effectively with each other.

I believe we will get better at enabling people with local knowledge to share it with people with comparable knowledge in other localities and to bring all that into a global picture. I hope there will be an end to top-down-bottom-up models of information sharing and a perception of information flowing across, back and forth, between people who genuinely respect and value each others contributions.

I hope that, increasingly, people are feeling that "computers are about information" but "people are about knowledge"- and we need to learn quickly how to work together more effectively.

I'm currently studying these ideas at the Dadamacadamy - and writing a related weekly learners diary at Pam's blog - http://www.dadamac.net/blog/pamela


Thanks Pamela. I share this totally! A new role appears here: cross pollinator...



Many thanks for the reply on narrative fractals - I just came across it!

I've updated the description on Quora and included a visual on how they may help tribes share intents for vision and action -- http://is.gd/nfractals .

In parallel with the update, I wanted to ask your views on two new Quora posts questions that bear on the topic of your post.

They deal with prospects for emergence of a "scenius" (in Kevin Kelly's sense) for cocreation, and with some of the frustrations that people experience in launching co-creation ventures.


Will value your thoughts!



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