Social revolution is not going to happen through the old ways. It’s too easy manipulating through the media old ways previous generations mastered. New ways are needed, ones impervious to infiltration and disruption.
It’s great inspiration that draws people to the streets. I’m for that, if that’s what you’re compelled to do.
Technology and the internet, however, create the new normal for revolution. They allow people to operate in independent yet coordinated ways then share their results. Doing so they create momentum faster and more potent than ever before. Without stigmergy, changes take a long time, get corrupted, and often fail.
What is stigmergy? From Wikipedia
Stigmergy is a mechanism of indirect coordination between agents or actions. The principle is that the trace left in the environment by an action stimulates the performance of a next action, by the same or a different agent. In that way, subsequent actions tend to reinforce and build on each other, leading to the spontaneous emergence of coherent, apparently systematic activity.
Stigmergy is a form of self-organization. It produces complex, seemingly intelligent structures, without need for any planning, control, or even direct communication between the agents. As such it supports efficient collaboration between extremely simple agents [or complex ones like humans]….
Some common examples of stigmergy in action: A city will build a park. Planners will plan sidewalks allowing people to cross open spaces. These pathways tend to be inefficient. So users will carve better, more efficient pathways.
Do the users hold a meeting, analyze the problem, come up with alternative design solutions, rank them, then pick the
best one? Of course not. Users individually choose the most efficient path. One person blazes a trail. In time, others do the same. Eventually, a clear, well-worn path results. It’s more efficient, and therefore more frequently used by those who follow.
A new path is created, a new way, an innovation. Revolution in the making.
Ant colonies operate on stigmergic principles. As do bees. Swarms of birds and schools of fish exhibit fast-moving stigmergic behavior. Even swarm drone technology is beginning to exhibit such behavior: autonomous flying machines, operating independently, yet connected and as a whole creating more value in sum than the parts, collect data about their surroundings while moving in a self-coordinated fashion.
Stigmergy in Copiosis
Stigmergy is how I’ve chosen to organize Copiosis the organization. I think it’s working. For example, our Net Benefit Algorithm emerged in the same way a path gets created through a field. I threw down an admittedly crappy version. Then, one by one, people gave input, making the formula more and more fit. We’re still refining it, even today, but I’m amazed how quickly – just a matter of weeks, we went from nothing, to a nearly-workable formula, to now a robust, working product.
Our current developing Action Group is forming the same way. The more tangible results we produce, the more team members get active, helping produce more results. As the team grows better ideas emerge. More team members feel empowered by the acts of others. I’ve already seen people answering questions about Copiosis that rival in quality the answers I give. This is stigmergy in action.
Violence is so 19th Century
Direct and often violent revolution is what our forefathers used to create social change. Revolutions start well-meaning. A few or even a single leading actor can start them. As such movements grow, adopting traditional structures, strategies and tactics, they weaken. Those who would dismantle such movements can do so easily: removing the leader, infiltrate the organization and create chaos or indecision — these subversive tactics easily destroy movements from the inside out, when the movement relies on the old ways.
Violence is a non-starter if the opposition has more guns than you.
Stigmergy benefits from passion, interest and individual focus requiring no cooperation, no direct action. You want to create an event to raise money? Go for it. Interested in joining that guy organizing that fundraiser? Have at it! You think you can create a better way to raise funds? Try it out and let’s see. No one will stop you.
A downside of stigmergy: the 80-20 rule.
Initially, 20 percent of the team often ends up doing most of the early work. However, as those actors achieve more and more tangible manifestations, manifestations gain more and more attention while generating more momentum. Other team members see the successes. They get excited as they are drawn to the pull success creates: everyone wants to be part of something that’s winning. In short order, you have a fully-engaged, active team, rallying around well-worn pathways that began as the small acts of one or two or five people.
In the end, the 80-20 rule works in the organization’s favor.
If you’re looking to achieve social revolution, especially if you’re up against the appearance of overwhelming resistance, stigmergy could be your secret weapon.