Tag: networks (page 1 of 2)

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

Human societies, hierarchy, and networks

Human societies and cultures are complex and messy. That means if we want to even begin to start understanding them, we need to simplify. This approach from Harold Jarche, based on David Ronfeldt’s work, is interesting:

Our current triform society is based on families/communities, a public sector, and a private market sector. But this form, dominated by Markets is unable to deal with the complexities we face globally — climate change, pollution, populism/fanaticism, nuclear war, etc. A quadriform society would be primarily guided by the Network form of organizing. We are making some advances in that area but we still have challenges getting beyond nation states and financial markets.

This diagram sums up why I find it so difficult to work within hierarchies: while they’re our default form of organising, they’re just not very good at dealing with complexity.

Source: Harold Jarche