Thu May 11th, 2006 at 04:06:07 AM EST
This is a response to a comment of technopoliticals that got out of control since I've been thinking about it for a while. TP says:
What the world desperately needs, I am convinced, is a medium a lot like this one in some respects, but differing in having scalable and flexible dynamics for group entry, exit, and overlap, -- this being combined with an improved set of community-building, discourse-debugging, and integrated Wiki-like collaborative tools. In aggregate, changes at this software-framework level hold promise of substantially improving the quality of community discussion and output -- including rapid responses of the sort under discussion at the moment.
I tend to agree with you, though I'm not sure how it would work. I've been thinking over the last few days about community sizes, clique formation and overlap and ways of organising them.
Communities have a maximum effective size. After that they need to self-organise into overlapping networks of cliques to keep things manageable. I think focus probably increases the maximum effective size, but only so much: a partisan site like dKos can be so big precisely because it is so partisan but dKos is organised into lots of overlapping cliques. It has also spawned numerous off-shoots that are effectively, but not formally or easily findable in it's network. ET is a dKos clique that has grown a lot of extra people that are not in the dKos group.
I suspect that a technological aid would allow/require/strongly encourage people to identify themselves as members of the various groups in order to build a sensible network architecture on top of the blogs that would have some useful semantics. So I'd be on the map as strongly ET, medium dKos, BT and IrishElection.com, somewhat The News Blog, and a little in a dozen other places. Jérôme would be strongly ET and dKos, medium Oil Drum and BT and no doubt weakly on other places. I suppose you could then browse that network to find overlapping/nearby places along various planes after stripping the personal info.
It also occurs to me that this would be a solution for the ET language problem, though in that case it would be more tightly linked as a community. It would also work for the policy problem - the ET pro-nuke clique and the ET anti-nuke clique have two different sites for those discussions. Damned if I know how I'd present the info. Maybe a side bar for "nearby" places.
Of course, it's a social rather than a technical problem so technology only goes so far. If you could tag all the collaborative sites this way you might have something though.