Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy

About: the doc searls weblog : new years eve, 2005


source: Doc Searls
But I'm also excited about the increased abilities we now enjoy to learn, to teach, to become proficient, to flatten the world's useless hierarchies, as Tom Friedman wrote about his book last year. 

Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy, Dr.Weinberger has been teaching us, since long before he installed that fact as a thesis in Cluetrain. I love that. 

Watch how hyperlinks tunnel through the pyramid we call CES. Watch how more and more "consumers" hack the machines built to herd them like cattle. 

This is going to be a great year.

See also Burningbird's proof of ... err, something.

source: me
... obviously "links subvert hierarchies", because anyone can link to anyone ? i don't need your stinking approval ? so there is no power control ? and power control creates hierarchies ? mentally or physically

source:  deciding ... better
From a systems point of view, hierarchy is an illusion. There is no up or down, there are only nodes. There are always interactions up and down. Some nodes have a more central position. Leaders can't lead without the consent of the led.

 The interactions in the system, whether an company or a group of websitewriters, create loops, creating unpredictable behavior. While it would seem that one part of the system rules others, in truth they all function together. Complex behavior emerges from the system that can't be predicted from any one of the parts. Those in hierarchies choose to participate in the system. Or are forced to participate out of necessity.

Hierarchy? Does it matter? I believe the hot button issue is control. Hierarchies create an illusion of control, but they don't take away choice. Certainly in the virtual world of weblogs on the internet, we can freely choose to participate or not. Most choose to participate in the emergent order that our communities foster.

They're not in control and I'm not in control.

I work hard not to let my position in the system dictate to me self worth. Whether its the number of links or hits I get or the amount of money in my paycheck. I can't let those external numbers dictate to me who I am. I choose who I wish to be.

 ... finally Shelly tells us what's on her mind:  

source: selections from Shelley's comment  

... if you look, you'll also see that this discussion followed the hierarchy?with those of higher ranks getting more links, and the proportion of links matched much of the 'rank' of each individual. So the very nature of the discussion tends to collaborate what Dave Rogers is saying: the links don't subvert the hierarchy. In fact, in any cross-weblog discussion, I bet we'll find that whenever the hierarchy starts to become 'subverted', or flatten out, when the so-called higher ranking folks join in, the hierarchy will re-assert itself, like iron shavings around a magnet ...

... The hierarchy doesn't flatten, as it widens it gets taller. Even if the ranking hierarchy can be subverted, the conversations themselves are hierarchical, with each new 'voice' becoming further away from the center of discussion (less linked, less referenced). Why? Attention.

Shelley, can i ask you a question?  Do you want to flatten the hierarchy ?  I don't think so, i think you are like the rest of us, you want to have your own head above the crowd and to be in the inner circle.  We all can see that as human nature, can we not?  In this sense hierarchy is good, it helps us filter attention. Sans this hierarchy of attention we would be like gas molecules senslessly bouncing against each other. 

What I would like to see technology do for us is give us better mechinism for following the conversation trans domain [see: tag trans domain] ... to watch the tree like spread out, without the hierarchy dominating our attention.  So that when someone says something new and valid, we can catch it in context.  The way it is now, mostly new stuff gets lost unless it is spoken by the alphas.  In other words we need a knob to adjust the levels of authority filtering dynamically as we read a conversation.  The other dimension is "surprise" ... wow, she said something new !

but Shelley says:
source: Shelley
But before someone comes along and says, "Well if we had technology that would map all of the discussion?" stop right there. Even if we had the links in one place, which we do here, we don't have the physical capability or frankly the interest to follow the threads.
Yes, people don't have the time or interest to follow those threads.  Technology, however, does, and can. Err ... but,we might need to give it a bit of a help ... err tagging ... or RDF meta data to lead the bots ?

In any case, thanks, Shelley, for stimulating the dialogue .



Tags

  1. my comments
  2. hyperlinks
  3. www
  4. hierarchy
  5. social networks
  6. burningbird

Comments


Mark de LA says
We used to call them "goto"s in programming.

unknown says
Goto--good analogy, Mark.

You're welcome for the stimulated dialogue, Seth.

Seth says
source: Hugh of gapingvoid
Anything that subverts hierarchies gets my approval. Mainly because it's good for traffic.



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