Social Organization – Micropolitics, Networks, Designing for and Living in New Communities

5 May

A single ant or bee isn’t smart, but their colonies are. (Miller, P. 2007)

Stemming off from framing and transversality, many groups, businesses and corporations are now using new networked media to collaborate, facilitate communications and create through the sharing of knowledge and ideas of social media. This system of networking can be easily understood through the collective abilities/swarm intelligence of animals. For example, ant colonies.

As described by Peter Miller, the swarm intelligence of ants “relies upon countless interactions between individual ants, each of which is following simple rules of thumb which scientists describe as self-organizing” (P, Miller, 2007).

This sort of system requires no management or leadership. Each ant follows simple rules, each acting on local information, coordinated by simple interactions. The same system goes for humans and therefore relates also to human micropolitics.

Peter Miller asks: How do the simple actions of individuals add up to the complex behavior of a group?

New forms of media have provided intricate forms of networking to people all over the world who use these platforms to engage, interact and create by forming a swarm. This enables them to contribute their individual skills and knowledge to make decisions and reach a collective goal through the formation of a “collective brain” (Zimmer, C. 2007)

Blogging, Facebook and Twitter allow individuals to link up and hence promote new forms of collective action and creativity required to mobilise change.

One of this weeks examples was the public interest and group called ‘Coalition of the Willing’ (CotW) by Knife Party. This particular volunteer group aims to combat issues relating to climate change through engagement and collaboration with the public in which they aim to harness social and technological innovation to find solutions to climate change. This networked system provides an alternative to government action as they believe it should be up to the public to take action. They collaborate through forms of social networking to promote their group and invite users to events and local meetings.

What we can notice through the introduction of such networks is the decentralization of power from government bodies and centralized systems to the general public.

Below is a collaborative animated film directed and produced by Knife Party about the online war against global warming.


Miller, P. 2007 ‘Swarm theory’ in National Geographic’

Available at: <>

Accessed: May 2nd 2011

Knife Party and Rayner, T. and Robson, S. 2010 Coalition of the Willing

Available at: <>

Zimmer, C. 2007 ‘From ants to people, an instinct to swarm’ in The New York Times



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