Small conversations are more efficient for exchanging thoughts and for switching/choosing topics, and so therefore small conversations go faster and get farther away from their original topic. In addition, the better a group of people know each other, the harder it is for an outsider to follow along; and since small conversations are efficient, they build SharedContext? quicker, and it becomes harder to follow faster.

In a sense, when a small group of people talks to itself for long enough, they develop a culture and language of their own, and a set of shared ideas (in their group mind?) that may not correspond to ideas shared by the mass culture outside the group. In this sense it is much like a singularity; the more they know each other, the more they are their own little universe; and the better they know each other to begin with, the faster they accelerate towards each other.

There is also a metaphor in small-scale physics; when you have lots of particles/people, you have lots of momentum and the macroscopic trajectory (in the case of people, choice of topics in the conversation) of the system seems sensible; with a small conversation, the topics flit around more, the same way that individual molecules in a gas bang out crazily.

Good. That’s true. How come? It’s more fun finding out new things with people who once understood you (partially) and who you once understood (partially) than caring for the outside to understand and thus be able follow. This is a dangerous trap actually. The outside must be able to follow.
Important is the terminology. Groups make up language others do not know. This language must be explained. That’s tiresome. What I do on the oddwikis I started is to run a blog for every wiki (that means a day-page set called BlogPages) where everybody can explain the development of the wiki to the “outside”. These blog entries are syndicated to pages called wiki-net blog on other wikis. That’s more transparent than following the tofu-wabohu of the recent changes at least. ;)

I would rather concentrate on the quesion ‘How can we use it’.

BayleShanks: If you write up “SharedContext?,” you may want to connect it with CommunityLore (some of the objects of that SharedContext?, living in people’s heads.)

The ArtOfHosting crowd [1] has an idea that they call the ArtOfHarvesting, [2] expressed in their own, peculiar language. In wiki, we call the “bringing something back” “reworking,” though we fail (LackOfReworking.) They have come to the same conclusion I came to in LackOfReworking, and ConversationProcess, specifically that if you are going to “bring something back” for others, then you should start your conversation with the intent to bring something back for others, and having clear ideas about how you’re going to do it, who’s going to do it, and so on; Not just leaving it up to chance. In BenevolentDictatorProcess?, I recommend that the person who makes the page (that’d be you, BayleShanks, if we followed it on this page ;) ) is the person who is responsible for reworking the page, keeping everything summarized, and so on. This is also connected with BlogControlledByWiki, which MattisManzel is alluding to, which is on a “per-unit-of-time” basis, rather than on a “per-page” basis.

(Which… Gives me a new thought: Perhaps we should have a more regular expectation of when summaries should be made, and who’s job it is to do it. Though there is a less clear motivation for someone to do it, than in the case of the BenevolentDictatorProcess?, where we’re riding on the enthusiasm of the person who makes the page.)

ZbigniewLukasiak: Which “It” are you asking how we can use?

BayleShanks: I agree with your observation, but wonder (perhaps like Zbigniew,) what is the interest here? To cite the old Wendy’s ad: “Where’s the beef?”


Dear Bayle, dear Mattis: liking the idea (“Small is beautiful”) what do you and the other folks here think about the following experiment for small group interaction: SmallConversationsAreMoreEfficient TheOutsideMustBeAbleToFollow CollectivelyReworkEarlyReworkOften EachNewConceptHasaName SmallPagesForSmallGroups SmallSegmentsForSmallGroups

The idea runs like this: In a dedicated wiki create only scrollfree pages, that can be overlooked with one glance. There are two cases: If someone is going to contribute and there is enough space to stay in one page, s/he simply posts, else s/he refactors the page and creates a new page with the new contribution. The main benefit is another solution of the reworking problem. For outsiders it becomes easier to learn the ingroup language as noted by Mattis TheOutsideMustBeAbleToFollow, because EachNewConceptHasaName. We could even emulate the idea on segmented long pages by SmallSegmentsForSmallGroups, where the segments have and can be addressed by anchors like this one. From my Forth experience with block/page editing I know, that even the most complicated stuff can be organized in such block/page/slide -style. For starting here and now, I explicitely invite to refactor my postings on this page. Would you allow this too, dear Bayle, dear Mattis and dear peers, for demonstrating this idea (here or elsewhere)? – FridemarPache 2007-01-03 11:28 UTC

Friedemar, I recommend trying it somewhere else first, and seeing how it works out. If your test is what we consider to be successful, then I can see beginning a discussion about using it for common practice here.

Thanks Lion, good idea. I am preparing for take-off ;-)FridemarPache 2007-01-03 19:04 UTC

Before you go, Mumble, don’t forget to bring along some friends. You might want to ask MattisManzel, he may be willing to help; It’s rough having a conversation by yourself.

And if you succeed, don’t forget to come back and tell us about it. We may have a different idea of what “a success” is, but I at least will be interested in seeing what comes out of it, and how, even if it doesn’t meet my definition.

I confirm that it’s rough to have a conversation with yourself. Just tell me where, Fridemar. We’ll try that and all out.

I think about moving Fridemar’s proposal to SmallIsBeautiful. Anyhow.

“Scroll free” is an idea, yes. What I wondered about was the perl-fisher metaphor on day-page-sand-wiki: about this wiki / Pages or not pages? That is here the question.. The hot stuff should be on the surface and five meters deep. But not 60 meters deep. Having the “hot zones” of a page - the document mode and the current discussion (today still in 60 meters depth) close to each other. That means we have to find an easy (one click) way to display the whole discussion chronological (just like it’s still today) for those who want it all - even the stuff from one and a half years ago.

Hi Lion, magically transformed into the “Great Penguin in the Sky”, I really appreciate your contributions in the community and besides that your good sense of humor. If you like to play this HappyFeet? rôle, it’s your choice. However I don’t know yet, if this is helpful for all of us. So feel free, not to play this potentially dangerous part. And I will tell you why, because I think, it is better to cool down our emotions, instead of heating them up. Indeed the way from a BenevolentDictator to a RealDictator? could be a short one. Think of the monumental architecture of dictators that intimidate their followers. Think of the pyramides that need slaves to be built. Think of the treads of sending dissidents into exile. Think of harvesting the slave work of contributors to wiki pages by a BenevolentDictator, who has initiated them. I know that you have created real treasures in this wiki and it appears that you’ve reached (nearly) the limits of your work-capacity. So it goes without saying, that the workload must be shared by all of us. I see, that it would cost a lot of work, to modularize the (Quasi-) MonologuePages?, so I won’t see anyone urged to do this enormous work. Instead of this I suggest to try out another paradigm, the SlideWikiApproach? for a more fair workload-sharing. In this approach everybody knows, when to refactor and when to create a new page, without fear to be disciplined by a BenevolentDictator. – FridemarPache 2007-01-03 23:43 UTC

Hi Mattis, your help to try out the SlideWikiApproach?, is greatly appreciated. I’m googling around Google:SlideWiki for finding something like that, before we are inventing the wheel. My idea is, don’t bury the perls in long pages, avoiding unnecessary work for the future. Unfortunately I am not privileged to create a page SmallIsBeautiful, because I am a newcomer. – FridemarPache 2007-01-03 23:43 UTC

I am perplexed about how to respond to this.

You clearly believe that I am a BenevolentDictator or a GodKing. I do not perceive myself this way; The BenevolentDictatorProcess? applies only to a page, and that authority can only come from the community (the authority of which is soon to be formalized in the CommunityWikiBylaws.) But it’s clear that there are well-intentioned people here (ChristopheDucamp, for example, on 2007-01-03,) that feel that authority stems not from the community, but rather, from me, personally.

Why did ChristopheDucamp believe he had to ask me if he could try the BenevolentDictatorProcess? on the 2007-01-03 page? (I would think it obvious that he needs not to.)

Thoughts? (In particular, from the community.)


  • @Fridemar: I think you may have offended Lion by the comparison to a dictator. Anyhow, we’ve previously discussed how, here on CommunityWiki, we feel it’s okay for the old-timers to lay down the law in some cases. So Lion is within his rights to tell you not to start a ScrollFree? campaign on this wiki.
  • @all: a little WordMagic comment: the phrase BenevolentDictatorProcess? is dangerous because it encourages people to use the word “dictator” in other contexts, which causes resentment.
  • on the merits of ScrollFree?: I’m strongly in favor of it, on this wiki – in theory. I think on-going discussions necessarily generate long pages, and essays are sometimes best on long pages, but in general, a well-refactored long page becomes a cluster of short pages. Actually having pages that are so short that they are “scroll free” is hard to achieve but it’s a nice ideal to aim for. The impediment is not that people dislike short pages, it’s that we haven’t been spending much time on refactoring here at CommunityWiki. If CommunityWiki was my fulltime job, I’d spend a lot of time taking big pages and editing them into clusters of ScrollFree? pages – but it’s not, so I don’t. So if you want to change this, I think the thing to do, rather than introducing a ScrollFree? campaign, is just to spend more time editing/refactoring pages.

OK; Agreed: I’ll get to thinking of another name for BenevolentDictatorProcess?. (ChristopheDucamp suggested the word maintainer on page 2007-01-03 – this leads me to think that perhaps PageMaintainerProcess? may be better language? Or, ResponsibleMaintainerProcess?, or MaintainerResponsibleProcess?, or DesignatedMaintainerProcess? Ooh, I like that one best– DesignatedMaintainerProcess.)

One of the LackOfReworking problems is: “It’s not clear when it’s the right time.” (LackOfReworking Failure Theory #33 :) .) Often times, I have a lot to say. I could write out 5 short pages. But then, what happens when someone disagrees with part, or a significant portion of it? For example, consider the mess that would have been made, had IsWantOught had been written as a collection of pages, all at once: Discussion would have been all over the map! Major ForestFire. And, it would have been rightly perceived as unfair. As it was, we ended up having a lot of discussion about the ideas, and the names, and a fairer CommunitySolution emerged. With time, we expanded out things into a larger collection of pages, the EthicsDiscussion, and deprecated the single, original page. I felt that this was a good process, that balanced being fair to the community, and producing lots of good and meaningful pages. I think it’s really smart to introduce bundles of ideas, on a single page, first.

I agree that: After things are more or less agreed on, chop it all up into pieces. Pieces that mean something and have interesting things to say (not ShallowPages,) but re-usable pieces nonetheless. Sensitivity to PageDatabase NameSpace is an issue, though, as well as the LinkLanguage. (Remembering VotingIsGood, vs. VotingIsEvil, and then AboutVoting.) A single page, – that’s easily an issue for only a small subgroup, perhaps even just an individual, on the wiki. But a big chunk of LinkLanguage, and I suspect we’re getting into political territories.

I’ve added to DesignatedMaintainerProcess questions about the maintainer being someone who decomposes a page, and such. I think we should experiment with it. (Hint, hint, BayleShanks, hint, or shall I address you as: Mister “Small Group Singularity?”) ;)

Dear Bayle, thank you for acting as a mediator. And dear Lion, thank you for your patience and engagement to make it crystal clear, that you are not playing (seriously) the dictator rôle as “Great Penguin in the Sky”. Correspondingly I won’t play the “Mumble” part. We are in a win-win situation, when we all collaborate, enjoying the immense synergies, that arise out of good teamwork. As suggested by you, now supported by Mattis and Christophe, potentially supported by Pattrick and hopefully other peers, we are going to try out the idea of a SlideBliki within the framework of CommunityWiki. Btw. via one of your contributions, I discovered the excellent site:, that offers a lot of helpful video-based memes, e.g. this one, illustrating the need for overcoming selfishness. So let’s be friends. brother Lion, and not opposing egos. You are invited to be part of the Slide Bliki (now moved, because of some missing features to Seedwiki) . Please accept my apologies for possibly having produced bad feelings. – FridemarPache 2007-01-04 11:43 UTC


Define external redirect: PageMaintainerProcess BenevolentDictatorProcess SlideWikiApproach MonologuePages ScrollFree MaintainerResponsibleProcess ResponsibleMaintainerProcess RealDictator SharedContext HappyFeet

EditNearLinks: SmallIsBeautiful BenevolentDictator ForestFire GodKing SlideWiki PageDatabase CommunitySolution