Emerging Behavior of Complex Collaborative Networks

Various authors, ThinkCreative, Oct 03, 2002
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is a difficult document to slog through, but worth the effort if you are interested in virtual communities or virtual organizations. The paper is a summary of discussions at a workshop designed to study the behaviour of complex collaborative networks. As such, it raises more problems than it solves. It appears that no formal approach is sufficient to capture organizational forms and behaviour. But it appears clear that such organizations result in what may be called emergent phenomena - patterns of activity that occur not by direction, but as a consequence of the autonomous activities of each member of the group. But this is insufficiently understood: no company is about to invest in the expectation of emergent phenomena that cannot be adequately predicted or described. We need to understand the impacts of leadership, cooperation, competition and turbulence in online groups.
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