Without some element of governance from the top...

bottom-up control will freeze when options are many. Without some element of leadership, the many at the bottom will be paralyzed with choices.

Numerous small things connected together into a network generate tremendous power. But this swarm power will need some kind of minimal governance from the top to maximize its usefulness. Appropriate oversight depends on the network. In a firm, leadership is supervision; in social networks, government; in technical networks, standards and codes.

We have spent centuries obsessed with the role of top-down governance. Its importance remains. But the great excitement of the new economy is that we have only now begun to explore the power of the bottom, where peers holds sway. It is a vast mother lode waiting to be tapped. With the invention of a few distributed systems, such as the internet, we have merely probed the potential of what minimally centralized networks can do.



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This is a blog version of a book of mine first published in 1998. I am re-issuing it (two posts per week) unaltered on its 10th anniversary. Comments welcomed. More details here.
-- KK