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Emergence emerging

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The other day I had an interesting talk with Erik Hekman about emergence. Steven Johnson wrote a good book on the topic and one of the examples he uses is ant colonies. There is no hierarchy in ant colonies. The queen is only there to lay eggs, there are no managers and no visionaries or thought leaders. Yet, ant colonies can exist up to 15 years. Ants communicate by means of chemicals and have a simple (yet effective) communication system. In such colonies, things happen orderly. Before we talked, Erik and I listened to a speaker on the very same topic. He was trying to get our students interested to join in a project on human emergence. The crux in his talk was that he thinks we can simplify human life to the limited rules of ant colonies.
Emergence is an interesting topic and my curiosity is huge. I believe that there are human emergent systems in environments such as social media and social networks but I research has been done so far.
An interesting research question is if and how we can identify emergence (or self regulation) of people; what are the rules of communication and how important is hierarchy in groups? Another one is: are we shifting from a feudal system to an emergent one?
Personally I believe that emergence is emerging and we are shifting our paradigms but it may take a while.

Written by Kees Winkel

February 2, 2008 at 11:16

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