Small people loosely joined

Apologies to David Weinberger for mangling his "Small pieces loosely joined" description of the internet but I have been meaning to post for a while about the "people power" aspects of the web.

Lots of things have come together to trigger this post so bear with me as I go through them: 

  • People's inclination to describe the business use of social tools as "bottom up". I always resist these attempts, preferring to argue that they are of as much interest to middle and senior people as those lower down the organisational ladder. Everyone has a need to communicate more effectively and everyone is a node in the network whatever their hierarchical status.
  • The use of the word social in social media is always problematic and makes people jumpy especially when it is used in conjunction with business. Americans seem particularly sensitive to this assuming some vague association with socialism or even worse communism!
  • Dave Snowden has over the years chided me for being anti organised religion while at the same time being evangelical for my own particular world vew. I counter this by saying that I don't care what people think. I don't want them to think what I think. I just want them think and to talk to each other about what they are thinking more than they do now on the assumption that if we all do that we will get somewhere better than where we are now.
  • Someone once described me as an organisational anarchist and while I was quietly chuffed at this, and while anarchism originally meant the ultimate in democracy, it still carries negative connotations for most.
  • Yesterday Sheryl Breuker wrote about the risks of those who she calls social media moguls getting too big for their boots (my phrase) and while I might not agree with all of her choices of examples I certainly agree with the risk.
  • Also yesterday at a conference I was speaking at Jonathan MacDonald coined the phrase involvisim and while I appreciate where he is coming from I don't warm to the word. 

In fact I don't warm to any of the "ism" words. Neither communism, socialism, anarchism nor libertarianism are right. There is something else going on here that is to early for an ism but that is really interesting. It is not grandiose enough to support an ism. It is about small people loosely joined. It is small and personal in essence but powerful in combination. It is not about people being insignificant but about being unassuming.It is not about being individualistic but about being loosely joined.

It is probably worth an ism but not just yet!