Sunday, April 11, 2004

Commenting on this : RatcliffeBlog -- Mitch's Open Notebook: Extreme Democracy

I think there's something missing from the beginning of this piece :

' For millennia it has proceeded toward a more scalable and widely distributed form of social control, toward egalitarian politics and markets, toward democracy. '

What you don't talk about is how we got to those central hierarchies in the first place. When we presumably started with a fairly distributed system of highly democratic bands of hunter-gatherers.

The tone of the piece is basically that improvements in communication technology are taking us on an inevitable journey to decentralization. It might be worth comparing Phil Agre's use Ronald Coase's theory here :

Things are only pushed in the decentralized / market direction when technology helps reduce market transaction costs *faster* than internal transaction costs. If the technology helps the transaction costs *within* hierarchies more, then we expect to see hierarchy strengthened. (As happened with the rise of empires like the Romans and Incas, based on the improved communication technology of their road systems.)

See also ThoughtStorms:HierarchiesBeatNetworks

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