Consilience

Alex Wright on the wikipedia / autonomy!=authority thing:

“What irks me about some of the dialogue to date is an assumption (usually implied) that networked systems are somehow inherently more “fair” than top-down systems. Democracy, like unregulated free markets, are no guarantee of fairness. And while networked systems surely give users more opportunity for input, they also abide by power laws which, though perhaps ineluctable, are neither equal nor fair (especially insofar as they favor early adopters). Top-down systems, while seemingly authoritarian, may paradoxically do a better job of defending the interests of the individual. Just as mob rule is no way to run a country, so purely democratic classifications could lead lead to groupthink, favoring conformity and marginalizing dissent.

But again, I don’t believe that top-down and bottom-up systems necessarily have to stand in opposition; the two models may ultimately prove consilient.”

Amen.

“Fast [to iterate] at the bottom, slow [to consolidate] at the top” to paraphrase Alex quoting Kevin Kelly.

This, however, does seems to be the überpattern of wikipedia afforded by its structure, as demonstrated by Historyflow, with some catastrophy and punctuated equillbrium thrown in.

“(Medium-)Fast at the bottom, slow at the top” was the principle behind iCan‘s information architecture, enabling campaigners to say exactly what it was they were campaigning for, and letting casual browsers have a way in which had some stability, and common currency of meaning at the top levels.

Neologism alert – after all this talk of ‘folksonomies’ can I say information arcology yet?

Heh.

0 comments
  1. M E-L said:

    Interesting — I’ve been trying to combine top-down and bottom-up classification schemes on my group blog, to make intrablog conversations easier to follow. I blather on about it here: http://tinyurl.com/6t2v6

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