Building the Bottom Up from the Top Down

Below you will find the introduction and the final section of the conference draft of “Building the Bottom Up from the Top Down,” a paper that I’ll be giving at a seminar in Paris this weekend.

As always, I look forward to learning from your comments.

Update: It’s not posting properly, so I’ve placed it in a separate file. Try: Building the Bottom Up from the Top Down.

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6 Responses to Building the Bottom Up from the Top Down

  1. Pingback: The Importance of...

  2. Interesting combination of various ideas. Here’s some notes. I don’t mean to be overly-critical, don’t misread the tone, but I think there’s some problems:

    “Demos argues that advances in technology and culture increasingly are being driven by a new breed of serious hobbyist, “amateurs who work to professional standards””

    Alternatively, one could phrase this as the depression of pay and loss of jobs from increased globalization. The amateurs would otherwise *be* professionals, but there’s not enough of a job market to support their work, so what would have been a paying job earlier is pushed down to internship-like levels. Same effect, but vastly different implications in view.

    “Perhaps the best way would be for governments to begin to use social software to involve citizens in decision making.”

    Yes … but … as a general rule, hearing from citizens is not the hard part. Arbitrating between different groups of citizens is the hard part. Which leads to:

    “Disputes about the nature and practice of self-government of online communities call out for a new type of neutral and external referee — a light-weight online arbitration, the cyber equivalent of a court, or perhaps rather of a small-claims court, but one empowered to primarily do equity rather than law.”

    Ummm … If there’s a dispute between members of a *physical* civic organization over the direction of the organization, that’s a private matter, the government has no hand in it. But let the argument take place in a mailing list instead of face to face – and it’s *CYBER*!!! Which is the magic word which generates papers :-).

    I think the argument for (my term) “micro-claims court” is interesting, in terms of making dispute-resolution more widely available. But it’s a hard argument, and really doesn’t have anything to do with cyber or online or any such buzzword. Yes, communications system affect organization, absolutely. But the dispute is really still between people.

  3. shmuel says:

    My comments are somewhat orthogonal to the short write-up linked ( above. After Stuart Kaufman’s work on self-organization in biological systems, Louis Comfort’s work on the need for same in disaster response and many other papers and articles stemming, mainly, from the first, self-organization is the consensus way to organize, react and adapt. Thus, bottom up is the way to go. My knowledge and understanding of the role of government support is limited. Still, it seems to me that as opposed to ants, for example, human organizations do benefit from hierarchical contributions.

  4. Jamie Lawrence says:

    Nice article. I even agree, to some extent, with most of it.

    I’ll leave a lot of the quibbles aside, and focus on this:

    Citizens in liberal democracies traditionally look to their governments to serve ameliorative functions. Other institutions, such as churches, charities and other NGOs also play important roles in fixing market failure, and failures caused by the markets. Thus, despite the irony, it seems plausible to ask what governments and other large established institutions can do to induce more groups to form and to help them engage in workable self-governance.

    Most of the paper seems to turn on the truth of this statement. I think it would be useful to flesh out the ways in which, for instance, “churches, charities and NGOs” cannot serve the role envisioned for government here. This isn’t critical – much of what you’re arguing for is strictly ameliorative, but the extent to which things that can loosely be defined as NGOs (creative commons, OSDL, GNU, etc.) have sprouted up to address specific concerns and serve as de facto bargaining advocates, foci of particular legal powers (GNU is great at this), etc. points to at least an avenue for more discussion here.

    SLAPP suits are a great example of where government intervention helps. I think a bit more work here would be great.

    Thanks for posting this! If I were to cite you, would you like me to wait?

  5. Cyberbug says:

    I see what you mean about lots of footnotes Michael…

  6. Michael says:

    I hope to have a final version done by the end of summer — so if you can wait for that please do; otherwise, it’s a creative commons license.


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