Tag: networks (page 1 of 2)

Prestige and associational value

This is 100% true and one of the reasons that I think that Open Badges and Verifiable Credentials are so awesome. Associational value is built-in for human beings, as we’re social creatures who set store by what other people value.

For example, I’m Dr. Belshaw which has a certain cachet and status in some circles. But people are usually much more interested/impressed by the fact that I worked for Mozilla and that one of our co-op’s clients is Greenpeace.

Them’s the breaks. And I feel like passing on this kind of wisdom to the younger generations is really important, to be honest, as a way that the world actually works.

A lot of people suspect that having-been part of a prestigious organisation (such a a famous university or an “elite” org in your field) gets you an unfair advantage when applying for future jobs.

There are two main avenues you could imagine for this advantage. One is basically nepotism: through the organisation you meet lots of other people who will later give you preferential access to jobs.

A second avenue is throughthe associtional value of the institution: that people with no specific connection to you or that organisation will see the name of Prestigious Institution on your resume and hire you because, well, you were at Prestigious Institution.


I think associational value often comes out of single-sentence descriptions of what somebody has done, and that therefore there are often relatively-easy ways to get 99% of the associational benefits of a prestigious institution at a much lower cost.

For example, in the magazine-writing world, people are often (approximately) defined by 1-3 of the most famous publications they’ve ever written for: “X’s work has appeared in TK, TK and TK,” or “this is my friend Y, she writes for [famous media brand].”


I’m not entirely sure how to work around this one, beyond the “try to get a mild affiliation with a prestigious institution, even if it’s an incredibly silly one” hack.

Source: Associational Value | Atoms vs Bits

Development without critique

Hypothes.is is an annotation service. I can’t remember who recommended I follow his annotations, but Chris Aldrich’s gleanings are worth following via RSS.

For example, I never would otherwise have come across this, from a Discord chat room, which got me thinking about roles within networks and communities.

I think this is the interplay where things get lost. There are very few theorizers, and tonnes of enactors. And everyone ends up thinking the enactors are theorizers, but they’re not. They’re developing specific methods without building up — and especially without critiquing — the underlying theory.

Source: Chris Aldrich | Hypothesis

Individualism and collectivism in decentralised networks

I don’t agree with Paul Frazee’s point in this post about Twitter vs “p2p Twitters” (by which he means the Fediverse) but otherwise he makes good points about governance and what he calls “operational collectivism”.

There are two kinds of resources in a network:

  • Individualist. The resource is owned by one stakeholder and doesn’t require cross-party coordination. Examples might include: tweets, blogposts, personal websites, likes and comments.
  • Collectivist. The resource is owned by multiple stakeholders¹ and needs coordination between them. Examples might include: naming registries, package managers, cryptocurrency account balances, aggregated comment threads.

I start the conversation here because it sets the context for all decentralization: that we have mastered individualist operation and collectivist standardization but have failed at collectivist operation. The inability to collectively operate networks has created the conditions for large monopolies on the Internet.


Whoever operates a collective resource has the power to change its implementation. The reason we decentralize operation is to distribute that power of implementation. If the stakeholders have the power of implementation, they’re able to ensure the resource represents their interests.


What’s the point of decentralization? It’s to ensure that the stakeholders — the end users — are represented. Individualism enforces personal control, while decentralized collectivism produces an intransigent consensus. We limit collectivist systems because they’re powerful systems, and power must always be checked.

Source: Back to basics: What is the point of decentralization? | Paul Frazee