BayCHI: The Dunbar Number… July 11, Palo Alto

I’ll be in the SF Bay Area next week, and hope to attend BayCHI’s event Tuesday night. There will be some great speakers, below. If any readers are attending, please look me up there.

7:30 pm
The Dunbar Number, Unstructured Trust, and Why Groups Don’t Scale
Christopher Allen, writer & columnist, Life With Alacrity

The Real Nature of the Emerging Attention Economy: Seen As a New Level in the Massively Multiplayer Game Known as Western Culture
Michael H. Goldhaber

The Dunbar Number, Unstructured Trust, and Why Groups Don’t Scale
Christopher Allen, writer & columnist, Life With Alacrity
Trackback URL: http://www.baychi.org/trackback/1216

We are relying increasingly on internet-mediated social software tools for our day-to-day interaction with other people. To design this type of software, we must better understand the psychology and social dynamics of individuals in groups. Awareness of what makes us human is now often as important to the success of the software as is understanding software architecture and code. One particular sociological factor, the Dunbar Number, is useful in understanding why groups don’t scale at different group sizes. A deeper awareness of why groups have different behaviors, the nature of unstructured trust, and which current tools appear to work best at different scales, can give guidance to both the online facilitator and the social software designer.

Christopher Allen is a futurist who has been working in the area of social software for over 15 years. He founded Consensus Development in 1988 as a groupware engineering firm; Consensus later went on to develop the SSL standard with Netscape Communications, a security standard which is now at the heart of all secure commerce on the World Wide Web. He later founded Skotos Tech in 1999, an online game channel centered on creating online communities. More recently, Christopher consults for social software companies such as SocialText, Opinity, and various other startups, and speaks on the topic of social software at various conferences. Since 2003, he has been sharing his experience by blogging about social software and online trust. Some of his most popular articles have been Tracing the Evolution of Social Software, Four Kinds of Privacy, Intimacy Gradient and Other Lessons from Architecture, Progress ive Trust, a series of articles on the Dunbar Number, and a recent series of articles on types of Collective Choice.

The Real Nature of the Emerging Attention Economy: Seen As a New Level in the Massively Multiplayer Game Known as Western Culture
Michael H. Goldhaber
Trackback URL: http://www.baychi.org/trackback/1217

Think of the human world as a Massively Multiple Interactive Game (which it is). As interactions change and increase, we are passing to a new level, something that hasn’t really happened to the same depth for centuries. The rules, fundamental values, and just about everything else are diverging from what was familiar in the level characterized by the exchange of Money, the prevalence of Markets and the dominance of Industrial production of standardized goods (call this MMI). The new level also depends on human abilities and desires, but now what matters most is our strictly limited abilities to pay attention and our much greater (on average) desires to receive it. The full passage will take many decades, but we are already well along.

Michael H. Goldhaber is a writer and consultant living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. He originated the concept of the Attention Economy in the mid-eighties and has since worked to better understand what is at stake. His most recent publication is The Value of Openness in an attention economy, which is part of a larger framework of trying to understand how the human species and its apparent reality are constantly modified and changed by human actions and predilections that somehow connect with biologically evolved propensities. See, in this regard, e.g., The mentality of Homo interneticus: Some Ongian postulates and also Reinventing technology: Policies for democratic values (Boston: Routlege & Kegan Paul, 1986). His Ph.D. is in theoretical physics.