Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The networked future

This is the first cut intro to the vision I'm writing up - which seems to be turning into a manifesto...  From here I need to go through references and links, as a first stage of refinement to create something of higher quality.  There are some chronic gaps - like what a 'network' is.  Let it be for now.... but let me know what you think of the start!

We're moving into an increasingly networked future.

Networks are becoming increasingly prevalent - as organisations, institutions, aspects of our day-to-day lives, ways of coming together, and ways to make things happen.

In the past, it was expensive and difficult to coordinate the activity of multiple agents.  Hierarchical bureaucracy was required to coordinate activity as organisations scaled up in size.  But changes in communications technologies mean bureaucracy is less and less necessary as an organisation method - and increasingly expensive and ineffective in getting things done, in comparison to network-based methods.

It's not that other structures won't be around - or have an appropriate, rightful place in the social ecosystem.  But networks will be more important than they are today. They will be much more important and prevalent than we can effectively take advantage of, with our current collective capacity to work in networked ways.

Effective agents of the future will need new, networked modes of operation.  We need to build on current ways of working that run counter to network-agency, and we need to develop our networked methods that are unsophisticated and underdone.  These will depend upon new mindsets and philosophies as well - a paradigm shift in how we think about 'organisation'.  Current mindsets undermine effective action by blinding us to the role of networks, and erecting barriers to using them effectively.

Networked modes of operation are not about 'keeping up' - yet.  These methods present new opportunities to tackle the sticky and wicked problems that are the thorns in the sides of today's paradigm.