Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Ecosystems are not about design or control

Marnie Webb always triggers a good thought or two:

It’s about turning over part of yourself. In two essays (1, 2) Peter Merholz argues that it’s not about the technology. He writes: “Web 2.0 is primarily interesting from a philosophical standpoint. It’s about relinquishing control, it’s about openness, it’s about trust and authenticity. APIs, Tags, Ajax, mashups, and all that are symptoms, outputs, results of this philosophical bent.”
In a Social Source Ecosystem, openness, trust and authenticity are cultural norms. The actual code and behavior of actors are just "symptoms, outputs and results of this philisophical bent."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Social Source Ecosystem: Catalysis

Catalysis-- an action or reaction among actors that is triggered by an outside agent--a very small amount of catalytic agent can facilitate a very large scale reaction.

Open source software becomes a catalytic agent that brings new actors into the social source ecosystem. Recently an online petition application was released using the CiviCRM API to store data. An entirely new community of users that care about online petitions will now be exposed to CiviCRM and potentially join our community and leverage our software.

One of the key factors for a successful catalyst is an environment conducive to broad cooperation across organizations, markets, commercial products, and human activities. In the software world, this means standards. TCP/IP, HTML and XML provide the basic technical standards, but for a Social Source Ecosystem, standard representations of actions, online donations, contact records, etc. Become just as important.

In the end, group forming networks are probably the most relevant mechanism for large catalytic impacts in the Social Source Ecosystem.

The implication is that the Social Source Foundation cannot be a central clearing house, but instead focuses on the basic rules and tools that allow any individual or group to immediately use CiviCRM for their purposes, creating a new group around their specific needs.