Blind Growth and Social Networking Technology

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by: Sigurd Rinde

Hat tip to Doc and his post where he comments and links to this, this and this – all suggesting that a network, or group, at some point of growth diminishes in value for each new participant. Appropriately termed as Metcalfe’s plateau.

Spam always follows size of the network, and we know that groups at some point (quickly) becomes too large for real conversations so that would not be a huge surprise.

Organisations realised this a long time ago. The Roman army had ten subordinates per commander all the way to the top, and modern organisation growth eventually leads to departments, divisions or even separate companies.

Human bandwidth has it’s limits.

So where does networking technology focus today? Bandwidth. Massive pipes to deliver volume (checked your Facebook notifications today?). And splitting up into smaller groups becomes an urge.

There’s something about this splitting, it be amongst friends or in a corporate setting. They’re often close to random or at best (or worse?) follows some guidelines of education or expertise. Or plain good behaviour bringing your friends into the next group.

And then you’re stuck. The post-split is rigid, it’s set and seldom change according to the need of the moment. Never true to the purpose of the task at hand, like when you’re in a department and want to work with somebody in another office. That’s when you have to prepare for some serious paperwork.

Instead of focussing on becoming a volume pipeline, this is where technology should focus: Deliver a purpose friendly framework allowing for instant changes to paths and nodes like a fast evolving brain. A framework that allows efficient patching to the right nodes for the purpose-driven conversation or collaboration you need to have, then instantly change again as the purpose changes.

Purpose, framework, paths, nodes, conversations – we’re talking process here. Flexible process framework instead of massive volume delivery pipes.

Perhaps that’s why I am sceptical to Facebook et al in the purpose centred enterprise setting?

Anyway, for alternatives, Doc’s working on the VRM Project while I’m trying to do my best as well.

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