The theme is competition and emergence – two cornerstones of the social media environment. Any social media system whether it be flickr, youtube or twitter operate on the principle that anyone can participate so long as you accept a simple set of rules. You are welcome to upload a picture to flickr so long as the content is appropriate and not offensive to flickr users. If it is, then the the community will flag the item for removal. Flickr is a self-organising system not governed by a committee or a hierarchy.
These designs originate from a revolutionary idea. An idea that was counter-intuitive to everything we once thought, and in some parts of the world the theory is still not accepted. The book was ‘The Origin of Species’ by Charles Darwin (1859). Prior to Darwin the world saw life ordered in a pyramid like structure where God was placed at the top, below him great men, then man, then animals and dogs. The lower orders follow the ideas of the upper orders. Darwin’s theory challenged this. Life, as he stated, was not designed from something more complex than life. It began from something quite simple – ultimately dead matter. From a set of simple rules something quite wonderful emerges – life. It is structured through a web of interdependencies where there is no one important part and we cannot change the status of an entity
Social media sites follow Darwin’s model in that anyone with an Internet connection can release their own music, publish their own book, or produce their own movie. Quality is judged on the number of views, comments received, and times marked as a favourite. Quality will rise to the top. It is most likely better than what a small collection of professional photographers can produce.
This is a brilliant idea. We can all participate, and we all compete with equal resource.
What I enjoy most about these web sites is the effect they are having in the offline world, more so than the online world. It no longer seems appropriate for one individual, politician, or celebrity to preach to the many without debate or comment. We all have a voice and an equal say.
This brings me onto the article, published on the BBC website yesterday. The article describes an innovation within the Swedish Education system that allows anyone with sufficient motivation to start their own school. They must work within a set of simple rules – follow a core curriculum and promote democratic values, but success is ultimately reliant on their design. If it’s good enough, it will attract students… and ultimately the Swedish government believe that standards will rise. Something wonderful emerges? Well, that’s the theory.
Article here: Swedish model of ‘free schools’.