Organized Culture is our name for the idea that society will compartmentalize into groups.
The theory is that it will do so because social affiliations will be ExplicitInformation, or "reified." That is, that they will be encoded, written down, inside computers. This is in contrast to how they are mostly spoken, and “in our heads,” at present. What is written is recorded, referenced, visible, and revisited. What is spoken is ephemeral, frequently intended for a small audience, and heard only once. (See: DocumentsVsMessages.)
The name is inspired by the phrase, “Organized Religion.”
At churches, people:
Compare with a lost atomic family in suburbia. There is the TV, there is mom, there is dad. You don’t talk with the neighbors, you don’t participate in social groups. Your coworkers may be the closest thing to a community.
Granted, the caricatures are extreme, they do not reflect reality. Churches aren’t always so wonderful, and the family in suburbia usually has some friends they see regularly. But there is a reality behind the caricature, and there is a very real strength behind the organized religious life.
Anecdote: LionKimbro knows that the Mormon church in particular is incredibly strong. You can be anywhere in the world, contact your local Mormon church, and your logistics are going to be all sorted out for you. You’re going to have a place, you’re going to get a job, you’re going to be secured. If there are political troubles, they have networks. If you need to ensure that a message is delivered, they have ways. Missionary service is required of all youths. They are highly organized.
What, then, is “Organized Culture?”
Organized Culture is when the great mass of people, soon to be technologically equipped in a PervasiveComputing environment, start to self-organize.
“How would this possibly happen? What’s different now, that wasn’t true then?”
Here’s how it will happen:
We don’t know for sure that it will happen, but we think those reasons are good, and we’re staring the trend in the face. (More on this in a moment.) If you are skeptical, consider it a scenario – something that could happen, and is worth considering, in evaluation of the future.
We note some trends that we think point this way:
On the theory that geeks take a technology first, and then everybody else uses it (think e-mail addresses, blogs, ..,) we predict that the phenomenon of organized culture will extend to a very significant chunk of society, perhaps all of society.
Consider a theoretical limit- What if Futures:BrainInaJar comes true, and we live entirely in VirtualWorlds?? Who will you live with? There would be no “neighbors,” except those you choose to make, yourself. Choice of neighbors would be mainly (but probably not entirely!) up to you. We would expect then that people would mainly carry social relations by culture. (We cannot assume that people will choose to “live with” other people, at all, whatever it may mean to “live with” someone or some people in this future.)
Now, back to reality: We are not at this theoretical limit. But it is a limit that we are approaching. We are interacting here on CommunityWiki, after all, even though we are scattered all across the world. This virtual environment does exist, it is impacting the material world, it is an expression of an organizing culture.
It’s hard to imagine what life will be like.
Things that were just rough abstractions before (“Are you a goth?”) may grow into more rigid alignment: “Yes, I am a card carrying member.” Will you actually carry a “card?” Well, it may just be a self-applied tag, and a trust metric (see RatingSystems) with your group.
We may relocate to places. A radical example of which could be: “I live in the Goth floors of the Centennial Tower in Seattle. Just upstairs the hippie floor, and downstairs the anime floor.”
We may see lots of HousingCoop?s, where people choose to live together in the same house, or CoHousing?, where people choose to build houses next to each other, and share some things in common. We may see SnowCrash style “claves,” or DiamondAge? style “philes.”
We can draw on history, and what exists today. There is the song from the 60’s, “If you’re Going, to San Fransisco,” which is where you meet the gentle people with flowers in their hair. In Seattle, there is Capitol Hill, which is where gay people choose to live, and Fremont & Wallingford, where liberal people choose to live.
Two efforts that owe their existance to the Internet are (the group in Georgia working to establish a truely Christian state,) and the FreeState? project- a communal Libertarian group settling New Hampshire.
FlashMobs are a short-duration (momentary, really) version.
Material world interaction is presently much richer than online interaction. As Futures:AugmentedReality comes online, group members will be increasingly accessible. DodgeBall? is a relatively clunky service that exists now. In the near future (5 years,) we will see more and more services like this, and with much smoother interface, and with far more people participating. Audio interfaces (headsets, microphones) are cheaper than displays; We may hear whispers declaring personal proximities, features of the environment, voices left hanging in space. When we have visor displays, we may see directional markers pointing us to where other group members are, and what their state and willingness to interact are.
If BayleShanks (in San Diego, CA, USA,) LionKimbro (in Seattle, WA, USA,) and JohnAbbe (in Oakland, CA, USA) are on a lunch break at the same time, and perhaps if MattisManzel (in Germany) is on dinner at the same time, the members may be made casually aware of this fact, and two may strike up a conversation. Others in the world, participating in the culture, but not in it, may OverHear it, and stand by to participate, if interested.
BrandonCsSanders reported: “I had coffee with Ward (ed: he means WardCunningham) yesterday and he suggested that we have badges at RecentChangesCamp that show an image of a wikipage. Each participant can then wear badges that show which online communities they participate in. Ward says he knows people by the look of their wiki, so having the badges would be helpful. Sounds a bit like an early open source uniform 😊”
Hm, if we are already it, then that’s not what I mean. I am talking about something very different.
Most Free Software developers are not substantially organized. They just have a project, and slap the GPL on it. Perhaps they post it to Freshmeat.
But they probably don’t (I think) consider themselves a “Free Software developer,” or “a member of the greater community.”
They just consider themselves as individuals doing their own thing, and, hey, here’s something I put the GPL on.
My concept is that this will change, that it will be good, and: Here’s how to do it.
Here’s a story illustrating the change:
In this way, an individual comes to be a part of the OrganizedCulture.
Before, their primary concerns were their own. After, their concerns shifted to include the well being of the organism as a whole. This is by the mechanism of friendships and communications and visibilities and reciprocations.
My theory is that this extends beyond just FreeSoftware development.
Pretty much every hobby interest and associated group will put their understanding of things at the feet of their members. What used to be highly centralized because of the logistics and expenses of recording and moving paper around will now be pushed to the edge: Reports, membership lists, meeting notes, historical reasons & rationals, will be available to all people.
Let’s say you are a grandma and belong to a knitting group, or the Red Fedora’s. Your knitting group will be affiliated with a greater knitting group. When you travel to another city, you’ll be aware of the other extensions of the knitting group in that area. If someone who is a member of the network is nearby, you’ll be aware of it, and perhaps remotely negotiate an interaction.
Things that are not “organizations” today will become organizations.
Consider CommunityWiki, for example.
If we all met at a corner during lunch breaks to talk, we would probably not also have an online presence, identity, and reputation.
Every lunch, in High School, a group of nerds met. I was included. We had great times, talked about all sorts of things, and coordinated interesting actions.
But we never thought of it that way, we never recognized our actions as actions, and we never considered that what we thought was meaningful or interesting. We certainly never had a webpage, and there was an impossibility of networking with the “greater nerd community.”
There is an exception and a door from there; Several of us were BBS’ers, and we would talk about what we experienced with other people, other worlds, other places (ie, the city 30 minutes away from us) via the BBSes.
As time went by, the BBS’es came to include Internet enabled BBSes, and we hooked into the LambdaMoo. It was not long after that we started meeting people from other states who happened to be passing by.
This is still an incomplete vision, because we don’t have enough intelligence and visualization to see the entirety of the community. I am saying: This will continue. Our little subgroups (“nerds who hang out in the room”) will continue to organize and see ourselves as part of a larger community.
It is very different than what we have now, both in terms of vision (transparency,) and in terms of actual shape of the network - who’s talking with who and for what purpose.
a relevant quote from JimMcCarthy?: The millions of ProductTeam?-s that make up the high-tech industry could become the central emerging community. They may well be the most critical cultural elements and, boom or bust, they consitute the most influential segment of civiliization in this era… In some eras, a spectacular surge of vitality propogates throughout the cultures of the time… Perhaps the vitality of our era can be found in the idea of connectedness. Perhaps we are in the beginning of the ConnectedEra?. People will increasingly function in a less time-bound/place-bound style. Yet their presence and levels of EngageMent? may well be greater.
see also WebSeitzWiki:WikiWeb
I’m not sure if this is the same idea, but in ThemePunks, by CoryDoctorow?, Kodak & Duracell are sort of liquidated and turned into a network economy of product teams. But only a tiny fraction of the original employees are able to make the transition.
I haven’t finished the story. (Then again, Cory Doctorow hasn’t either.) I’ve only read 4 of the chapters. So I can’t tell you what happens next. But boy, is it a great read!
Good question. I am having trouble defining “organized culture” precisely. I think it’s a useful concept, I feel there’s something there, but I have troubly tying it down into words, probably because there are so many ways that it could work out.
And I’d speak a little more boldly on: OrganizedCulture doesn’t happen if you don’t have the technology.
Lion, when you say “have” do you mean “own”, or just “have guaranteed access to”?
It has to exist!
It doesn’t, yet.
“Own” vs. “have guaranteed access to” – OrganizedCulture would exist because things are possible that only this sort of technology could create. It doesn’t exist anywhere yet.
“Own” or “guaranteed access to” might not be the right way to think about it. (Who owns FreeSoftware? Does a non-programmer have access to their software, no matter how many rights you give them to their software? Consider “You can and must understand computers,” TedNelson.)
“Have regular access to” might be the best way to put it.
> only this sort of technology could create
I don’t understand. Why are current technologies not important?
> Who owns FreeSoftware?
Otherwise the software is owned by the Copyright holder(s).
Furthermore, the GPL ensures all workers have guaranteed access.
> You can and must understand computers
I don’t understand. Culture is much more than computers.
> "Have regular access to" might be the best way to put it.
If owners don’t enforce access, it will be purchased or taken by those who hate freedom.
I think we’re thinking about the objects in the conversation, and the conversation itself, in very different ways. That’s good! It makes it interesting.
Why are current technologies not important?
I’m not saying they’re not important; They clearly are. But they’re not HyperSocial, and they don’t make OrganizedCulture possible. OrganizedCulture is impossible with only the present tools. (Or rather, it exists in an only very mild way.)
Let’s throw out this discussion, for now.
I am distinguishing ownership from the ability to control; I’m not certain that the distinction is meaningful. (Many people own computers, software, but have no ability to control them. A person has only a finite amount of control over a device at any given point in time, regardless of being an owner or not.)
Let’s just say: It is important to have access to a technology in order for that person to participate in OrganizedCulture.
(on culture & computers😊
Of course culture is much more than computers.
And hospitals are much more than medical records (“charts.”)
But you can’t pragmatically run a hospital without medical records (“charts.”)
Technology can dramatically change a culture that uses it.
OrganizedCulture is simply a dramatically different sort of pattern you get out of people, when computers give them intelligence about the social systems that they participate in.
No social intelligence, no organized culture.
> Let's just say: It is important to have access to a technology in order for that person to participate in OrganizedCulture.
Yes, this is the problem I speak of.
> I am distinguishing ownership from the ability to control; I'm not certain that the distinction is meaningful.
Ownership is profoundly important when it is large because hoarding is allowed, and the ability to control defaults to ‘no’.
culture is alread organized - technology has aided in that for a long time.
Wait, Patrick- What problem are you speaking of?
This is the first time you (or anyone) has used the word “problem,” on the page. Before that, it was just a few of us talking about CivilSociety.
If you’re raising an issue, (perhaps the DigitalDivide?,) or something like that, then you need to do so a little more clearly.
> What problem are you speaking of?
The problem that culture is not organized.
> a few of us talking about CivilSociety.
I don’t mean to intrude. I really am trying to help.
What would you say is the cause of poverty? Can economics be fully understood?
If culture is already organized maybe I’m on the wrong page…
No, no; It’s okay.
I need a moment to think about this.
Okay; this page, OrganizedCulture, isn’t about a problem.
It’s about a thing. A thing that I think will happen. More specificly, it’s about a configuration of people and computers.
I think it will be a good thing, at the very least it will be an interesting thing.
I can tell you about a specific problem that I have, that OrganizedCulture has some bearing on. Specificly, I belong to this “FreeSoftware” world, and it’s really really really hard for us to find each other, network, recognize each other, to “see” each other, through the Internet.
Now, there’s multiple things that will help with this problem, and the DevelopersVirtualWorld is one of them. (That we’ll reach it, it’s not a question in my mind. What it will look like, is anyone’s guess, though we have some ideas.) SocialNetworking? will likely be a facet of it. The ProjectSpaceNetwork helps.
Now, there’s this other thing, “Organized Culture,” which is-
No, I was about to say the wrong thing. OrganizedCulture is not a specific visualization.
OrganizedCulture is about what culture is like, when all the relationships between people are reified. By “reified,” I mean: When you can see them. When they are visible. (By some mechanism.)
When a group has a specified status, beyond just “they call themselves the nerds in the school.”
That specification may be gradient, that specification may have a ton of parameters. That is, it may be much more complex then: “(if (member-of-group-p lion nerds) …)” That is, it’s probably not going to be binary. But that’s not the thing, that’s not the interest, that’s not what this is about.
This is about computers, data, hard drives, reflecting our organizational patterns, and then what it means when you can go through those SocialNetwork things.
So, for example, you can trust that it’s okay to ask some stranger if you can crash at his house for the night, because you both belong to these Free Software projects, and you can implicitely trust each other by InternetBonding and on and on and on.
Sure, culture is already organized. And some companies actually do have these big long registries of who you can trust where and why, and they actually make use of those lists. But see, the interesting thing here, is lots and lots and lots of ordinary people, regular Joes, what have you, will at least have the capacity to let their computers crank those lists for them, and explain all the stuff, and so on. And the reputation networks, and all that stuff.
So, that is different, and interesting, and noteworthy. (In my personal thoughts.)
Now, “cause of poverty,” and what not- that strikes me as a very different discussion. There are overlaps between the ideas, there are clearly ties, and what not, but that’s a different discussion.
“poverty? can economics be fully understood?”
our answer is CommunityWikiBank .
are we an organized culture?
yes, because wiki is a culture and in combination with the wiki tree (persons) and the wiki bank (things) and our wiki writing (information) it’s an organized culture .
What’s that quote that Cozianu had in here… Something like: “I write it, and I remember. I say it, and it goes away.” ..?
Something like that.
The principle is that things are different, when they’re written down, than when they are spoken.
And so, that’s how it is here, too: Our culture is “writing itself down,” and it will be changed, in the process. I think we will pay much more attention to our organization, then, because we will see it, it will be right there in front of us, rather than just something we think and say now and then.
Or maybe not! Maybe this idea is just crazy. I don’t know.
Reified! That’s the word. "reify ___" = "to make a first class object out of ___", right?
By the way, seeing CreativeCommons licenses really opened my eyes to the idea of doing all sorts of things that way in society (which would be one facet of OrganizedCulture). For example, some people were talking about a dance put on at UCSD by the lesbian-gay-bisexual student groups and about the diverse, hard-to-categorize sexual preferences of those who would attend. And I was wondering if you could devise a CreativeCommons style categorization system flexible enough to accomodate most of the cases (if everyone wore badges detailing their category within such a system, there would be a (somewhat complex!) algorithm that could allow you to look at your own badge and someone else’s and compute if you two are “compatible” – i’m not sure if people would want to do that at a dance but it’s neat to think about).
And you could have all sorts of other standardized categorizations (like, going off the couch example, “if you are a nerd feel free to ask me if you can crash on my couch”, or “do not bother to ask me if you can crash on my couch”). And put them all in your FOAF. He he.
The SexMuds? have some pretty sophisticated kink classification systems.
And what you describe is exactly what they’re used for- automatic compatability discovery.
More likely, at the dance, you would be interested in the sorts of dancing people like, what they know how to do.
…and then the DJ could see that visibly, and get a list of popular songs in that category.
Of course, you mix in the musical preferences as well, and…
Specifically, he argues that individuals are a product of the community or culture that they grow up in. Different cultures have different ideas, and that’s okay with Aristotle. But he says humans don’t live and have values outside of relations with other people. I don’t think he’s working so hard to argue that hermits are not human, so much as to say, “The vast majority of us are intrinsicly tied to the social organism,” and that we cannot consider humans outside of a human context.
I am reminded of a friend I met who swore that he was completely alone, isolated, and independent from the rest of humanity. Any tie between him and the rest of humanity, it was all off. Yes, he had learned language, and knew how to communicate with other people. But that was the extent of it.
And yet, his goal, his dream, his life’s ambition, was to own a particular make of a 1950’s car. He was obsessed with the 1950’s. “Why?” Because (he told me😊 it was the epitome of Purity.
(He would have liked the virtue ethics..!)
This is a demonstration of how intrinsicly we are wired with our society.
And an idea that Aristotle’s argument can give political backing to the idea of organized culture.
I also wrote a little about this idea on my blog.
I’ll make a hit-&-run addition here & point people to this RAND paper: Tribes, Institutions, Markets, Networks: A Framework About Societal Evolution. Summary: society/culture has always been organized. What’s different about the emerging culture is not that it’s organized but how it’s organized. Networks are a new form of organization, one we’ve never been able to really have before because they were too complex (heh) to manage without computers. Mathematical complexity is a new skillset that opens up new horizons of cultural advancement that are IMO as significant as literacy or fire.
Mm-hmm; Excellent link.
On CW, we’ve been referring to this general idea as “OrganizedCulture.” The title doesn’t mean there’s been no organization in society until today.
Yes. I’ve been dabbling in game theory and complexity theory so long that I am stunned when I am confronted by someone who clearly just doesn’t get it. I have to remind myself that these things are still relatively recent innovations, and not yet something that everyone is expected to learn.
And about people going home and not getting involved with their neighbors? I’ve been told that “Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam – famous for “Bowling Alone,” his 2000 book on declining civic engagement … The book sounded a national wake-up call on what Putnam called a sharp drop in civic connections among Americans. … Putnam claims the US has experienced a pronounced decline in “social capital,” a term he helped popularize. Social capital refers to the social networks – whether friendships or religious congregations or neighborhood associations – that he says are key indicators of civic well-being.”
I see that this page talks about 2 slightly different ideas. To summarize:
I have recently finished reading Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another. I recommend it to anyone here. But there was one thing that particularly struck me - when discussing the strategies used for playing multi agent repeated prisoner dilemma games. The strategies are very simple mathematical things - and yet when observing the simulations you get emotional about them. They are emotionally touching - you feel which one is ‘good’ which one is ‘evil’ and you want the ‘good’ to win. This all proves that it is really the right model - and evolution has embeded those strategies into our minds and cultures.
I feel that TransparentSociety is somehow related to OrganizedCulture, and that nonprofits just might be more comfortable making the transition before for-profit organizations. Is the future already here? radical transparency: better than reality tv.
I now recognize one of the key problems with Organized Culture as a theory: People reaaaaaally don’t like organized culture.
People want everyone to live the same. “Yes,” there are odes to individuality, but if people genuinely live differently, “Well, we have a word for that.”
This is not to say that it won’t happen, but it will require new arguments in the main stream to really happen in a major way. There are forces I can perceive that would lead up to it, but more buildup will be required.
The main stream is very strong, and very phobic to genuine difference, especially difference in living patterns.
[anchor first defined here: OpenSourceSociety]
This has led me to begin to develop a new concept, “OpenSourceSociety.”
OrganizedCulture was envisioned as a social response to changing technological conditions. I still think technology makes a contribution, but I realize its grossly insufficient to challenge the present social order on the order that OrganizedCulture predicts.
OpenSourceSociety is a different story with the same end. Rather than occuring through technology primarily, though, it comes through the libertarian impulse that has realized that top-down strategies don’t work (Communism, Facism,) and that bottom-up “it’ll just happen” strategies don’t work either (Anarchism, 60’s Movement.) Rather, self-organizing that makes use of hierarchy, yet with a “live and let live” respect for difference and sense of a broader movement, and operating within the law, would be the way forward. The open-source / free-software ecology: projects, communities (such as Inkscape,) and societies (such as KDE or GNOME)) are the metaphor the phrase uses to describe new ways of living and working together.
I wonder if your idea of OpenSourceSociety would include projects such as http://Oekonux.org or http://OpenFarmTech.org/index.php?title=Open_Source_Ecology
The idea of an OpenSourceSociety would fit within Oekonux discussion, but Oekonux itself is not a society in the sense that I intend; What I mean by a society is both a people and a material place where people live, think, work, etc.,. People would consider “communitarianism,” I would take it up a notch from “community” (less than DunbarsNumber) to “society” (1,000s of people.)
The Factor E Farms are much closer to what I intend, though I think they see themselves primarily as a community of research for a particular project.
A little closer to the target still would be the FederationOfDamanhur, because it is intentionally a society-developing effort, and reaches ~1,000 people.
Incidentally, Oekonux is something really amazing; I’d never heard of it before, but am really inspired by what they’re doing. I like how they hold conversations and maintain their wiki.
Wow! Thanks for pointing that out. I had no idea. You never know if anyone’s reading anything you write.
One way of categorizing the Stages of Civilization is in terms of how much data typical members have access to. I don’t think this OrganizedCulture is quite so grand as the “Next Stage of Civilization”, but certainly part of the trend towards more information available to each person. As LionKimbro mentioned at CommunityWikiBank, “When you’re just lending between friends, you often have no estimate of what is available in the pool.”. The CommunityWikiBank and parts of OrganizedCulture help people to find out “How do I go about getting financial assistance from my friends, and how much can I expect my friends to give me if I ask?” and other things that most people currently don’t know.
Define external redirect: TrustNetwork JimMcCarthy ProductTeam CoryDoctorow SocialNetworks CategoryOrganizedSociety OpenSelfOrganizedCulture SocialNetworking TagCamp FooCamp FreeState DelIIcioUs DodgeBall SexMuds MeetUp CouchSurfing CoHousing ConnectedEra VirtualWorlds SelfOrganizedCulture DigitalDivide WikiMania HousingCoop EngageMent ChaosComputerClub DiamondAge CommonsBasedPeerProduction