Network and Noospheres
June 22, 2005 10:55 AM   Subscribe

A Long Look Ahead: NGO’s, Networks, and Future Social Evolution
The information revolution favors the rise of network forms of organization, so much so that a coming age of networks will transform how societies are structured and interact. ...In the years ahead, the [environmental] movement's strength (and sometimes its weakness) will continue to be asserted through social network-based wars against unresponsive, misbehaving, or misguided corporate and governmental actors. …Ageing contentions that “the government” or “the market” is the solution to environmental or other particular public policy issues will give way to new ideas that “the network” is the optimal solution. The rise of network form of organization and strategy will drive long-range social evolution in radical new directions.
David Ronfelt’s explorations of information and society are based on a framework of societal evolution involving tribes, institutions, markets and networks. Modes of conflict with participants networked (as opposed to hierarchically structured) are called netwars. Many of the recent domestic and international terrorism conflicts are being fought as netwars. The civil society approach to politics and diplomacy in the network age may hinge on noopolitik, a strategy of information.
posted by warbaby (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by absalom at 12:00 PM on June 22, 2005

No thanks. Faster, wider communication doesn't change the fundamentals, which are tyranny, oppression, bigotry and hatred. Just makes them faster.

It's like comparing taking a codeine pill to shooting heroin.
posted by nervousfritz at 2:01 PM on June 22, 2005

This could be re-phrased as a matriarchal organization replacing a patriarchal, hierarchical pattern.

A clear model of this is the Navajo (Dineh) tribe. They have to have a "tribal government", in that other governments need some interface with the tribe, hierarchy to hierarchy. However, their real power structure is extended family matriarchs, batches of "grandmothers" that in an ad hoc manner direct their 200-300 member families by consensus.

Whereas a patriarchal hierarchy is easy to explain and understand, the workings of a matriarchal system are both too complex and too simple for easy definition.

Another good example is the Rainbow Family, which has had to adopt a matriarchal organization to avoid arrest and prosecution. It has no real "leaders", just consensus groups. Its seeming disorder still accomplishes group results.

If done efficiently, a matriarchal organization is just as capable as a patriarchal system.
posted by kablam at 2:30 PM on June 22, 2005

great stuff, thanks warbaby.
posted by jeffj at 3:17 PM on June 22, 2005

Makes sense. The T+I+M+N model is an interesting way to look at history. T+I+M were all precedent on demographics, the result of an increased population, scaling how humans organize. N is a result of technology, but is it really scaling how we organize? Perhaps. Or is it just more efficiently organizing existing structures. Looking at MeFi for example. Most people here are from the USA, in the 15-40 age range, male. Pre-network days, this could describe the subscribers of a small magazine. There is no greater scale organization going on.
posted by stbalbach at 6:28 PM on June 22, 2005

kablam, the situation you describe with the Navajo is exactly what happened with the Germanic tribes who came in to contact with the Roman Empire. They had no "kings" (or Emperor), but the Roman Empire couldn't deal with them unless they did, so they created them. From there they naturally evolved confederations of tribes, much to the dismay of the Romans, and it is those confederation of tribes: The Franks, Angles, Saxons.. that we get the foundations of the political organizations that would become the present day European nations.

I've always wondered about the confederations of American Indian tribes and how they would have developed without European intervention, my guess is the strongest ones were centered in New York and Georgia and the Pacific Northwest would have become the equivalent of the French and Germans and English, the centers of gravity on the continent.
posted by stbalbach at 6:38 PM on June 22, 2005

Two of the examples of earlier forms of conflict that netwar describes were Gengis Khan and the French and Indian War (see Advent of Netwar). It's not dependent on the technology and has been around for a long time.
posted by warbaby at 7:17 PM on June 22, 2005

Great post, warbaby. Thanks!
posted by homunculus at 11:17 PM on June 22, 2005

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