welcome
cartLogin

Constraints in on line interaction

November 12, 2012

I withdrew from my last remaining listserv this morning.  I used to be active in several but generally I found them problematic.  They varied between over-curation by their founders or unconstrained free for all.  In the former case the founders in effect had a view, or position to which dissent was discouraged to the point of posts being delayed or censored.  In the latter anyone could say anything without any constraint.  Also they all (or at least the ones I was involved in) tend to be small in groups where most of the disputes are rehearsals of past interactions.

In contrast I have found wikipedia far more rewarding.  For a start the work you do has lasting value as wikipedia is the first hit on google searches for most subjects.  Secondly there are behaviour constraints that take time to learn, but which enable people of radically different views to work together.  Evidence is important and I note that in one case where an anon IP attacked the Cynefin page the fact that their assertions were demonstrably false (by reference to reliable sources) forced them to withdraw, while on their blog (yes I know who it was, its easy to trace an IP) they can assert falsehoods without correction if they are happy to censor comments.  Withdrawing to a world in which your own truth is all that is permitted, and all that happens vindicates your self-view is what Lacan called “perversion“.

As we evolve into a social world, and its still early days in that evolution, I think wikipedia has stumbled on something that works.  Contribution is moderated not by adjudicating on content but by some simple rules governing standards and mainly behaviour.  You can revert if you want, but carry on and you will be blocked even if you have right on your side.  There are voluntary boards where sources can be checked and so on.  I think it makes a critical point that the real constraint in human discourse is behavioural.   That is not to say that wikipedia is a polite place.  If you want to contribute it can get rough, especially if you want to push a personal position.  Its a bit like debates in the House of Commons, there are conventions but within those conventions you have free reign. 

Its the key point on complexity, constraints are everything.  Too many you get ossification and sterility, too few and you get nonsense.  Debate, differences, contradictions are essential to the emergence of meaning.  But evidence and behaviour are necessary constraints on any such exchange.

The picture is of an oil painting “The House of Commons”, 1833 by Sir George Hayter.  The Victorian House is a fascinating study as it represents the early emergence of real democracy in the United Kingdom.  I've just finished re-reading Trollope's Palliser novels which reminded me of this.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Posts

About the Cynefin Company

The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.
ABOUT US

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.

© COPYRIGHT 2022. 

Social Links: The Cynefin Company
Social Links: The Cynefin Centre
< Prev

More on OODA & Cynefin

- No Comments

Mark Hart made an important point in his comment on my post of yesterday.  Boyd's ...

More posts

Next >

The endless cycle of idea and action

- No Comments

One of two most popular, and to my mind least useful, models in knowledge management ...

More posts

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram