Changing How We Think About Self-Organization

Long-time readers of this blog will remember that I have a long standing interest in self-organization in informal online learning communities (e.g., the 2002 paper on Online Self-Organizing Social Systems, the 2003 paper OSOSS – Crisis / Response, the 2004 paper Sociability and Scalability in Online Learning Environments, etc.). This is an area which I continue to watch with interest.

So I was extremely interested in this new article, Transport Layer Identification of P2P Super nodes:

Although self-organized systems appear very effective under the assumption that all individuals follow the same simple set of rules, the presence of key, well-informed individuals altering their behavior according to their prior experience might generally enhance performance even further.

The article was recently reviewed in Wired:

“This begins to change how we think about self-organization,” said Nicola Plowes, a behavioral ecologist and ant specialist at Arizona State University, who was not involved in the research. “Informed individuals making those decisions actually result in a process that is more efficient than a simple homogeneous self-organized system.” The findings will be exciting for technologists and mathematicians who use insect-based algorithms, Plowes believes.

The findings should also be interesting for MOOC and other educational researchers for whom self-organization provides a major conceptual framework.

2 thoughts on “Changing How We Think About Self-Organization”

  1. So how do we make people aware that David Wiley has a particular interest in self-organization in online learning communities. I think we need an online who’s who in the MOOC world where we can cross reference people to their areas of interest.

  2. Agreed. I’m not sure of the mechanism, but a more efficient way to find people along with their areas of interest is needed. Right now I am relying far too much on chance encounters.

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