February 5th, 2009

IDES 322: Self Organization

Alex Gilbert

In the last class, we laid out the spirit of this course. This week our section overlaps with the Junto, so we're trying to tie some new themes together here. The assigned readings should have served as an introduction to the topic of the modern library, and we're looking forward to seeing what comes out of it all in the discussion tonight.

One of the recurring themes throughout the course will be to be how technology is affecting our ability to come together and organize ourselves. This theme was heavy in Geoff's thoughts on the library. It's how the Junto got off the ground. It's a big part of how we approach education and business. We believe that a firm grasp of concepts like emergence is a crucial part of what we referred to last week as "web fluency."

On to the the focus of this week's assignments:

Self-organization is a theme of the Clay Shirky chapter. He describes how shifts in technology allow for self-organized behavior. People are able to come together to solve problems for a specific time without the need for on-going management.

Jennifer 8. Lee on the origins of Chinese American dishes— how Chinese food restaurants do not have a central organization coordinating their cuisine, menus, interiors, etc, but yet you can get a very similar experience across the country at a Chinese food restaurant. She credits this to self-organized and emergent behavior.

Self-organizing and emergent behavior have deep roots, but technology can accelerate the process.
  • Go to a library inside the city (extra credit if it's not at UArts!) and take photos of the library environment as a study of what uses the space is optimized for.
  • Upload your photos to flickr and tag them with appropriate keywords. Make sure they are all at least tagged with "ides322."
  • Find and join and existing flickr group related to libraries and submit your photos to the larger pool.
  • Write your thoughts on the assignments as comments on this post. Try to integrate your thoughts on both the readings and the video. How do the concepts overlap? What does the bigger picture look like?
Alex Gilbert