[FoRK] Coordination is hard

Bill Stoddard wgstoddard at gmail.com
Tue Feb 2 12:14:36 PST 2010

On 2/2/10 10:53 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
> On the democracy / government / scalability front...  Hanson, today:
>   http://www.overcomingbias.com/2010/02/coordination-is-hard.html
> Nb., these comments are true of any "organization" --- i.e., group of 
> individuals ostensibly attempting to accomplish an overall goal or 
> variety of goals cooperatively / by working together, leveraging each 
> others' work, yet with potentially dissimilar or even competing 
> interests and priorities and subgoals.  Several things make this 
> acutely difficult in government, which are nonetheless fundamental to 
> the very ideas and nature of "government."
> But it's no less a problem in e.g. companies.  The interesting bit, 
> from my perspective, is that there are increasingly compelling 
> existence proofs (Google, Netflix, etc.)  that effectiveness at real 
> corporate scale requires a high level of "stigmergy" --- i.e., 
> disorganization and decentralized, ad hoc coordination.  But there are 
> also very good proofs that this *fails* to work in many cases.  
> Understanding what allows it to work in some but not in others would, 
> I think, be useful.  (I have my own conjectures about that, but will 
> keep them to myself for now.)
Perhaps a goal that lends itself to being understand by 'organizational 
instinct'?    Every member of the organization can relate, almost 
instinctively, to the business goal.  In those cases, stigmergy 'works'.
> jb
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