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Cathedral Bazaar

THE OBSERVER - CONT'D

Listen and change

During electoral campaigns politicians listen to feedback from polls and change their messages accordingly. However, this process is a finely tuned feedback cycle where only selected people are allowed to be part of. Only the "inner circle" within a politician is accepted as the purveyor and synthesizer of feedback conclusions. Politicians want to know exactly what they need to change in order to win the election. For this to happen, networks (aka people) are only required to provide raw data (i.e. polls). All the processing and summarizing happens in a tightly defined process. As such, a hierarchical structure works best.

People do not have these issues. Some people accept criticism and others do not. There is no major incentive to change our views, ways of working or our environment. As such we poses the ultimate in flexibility. We know that if we want to satisfy ourselves, we are the only ones we need to listen to. However, we also know that if we want to satisfy others, we need to listen carefully and remain flexible because most voices do not represent the majority; they are just individual voices. And so we listen and change, listen and change, listen and change for as long as necessary until we get it right; until we satisfy other people. For this to work, for us to get constant feedback we need networks.

Safety in numbers

Politicians look at numbers in pools as the average opinion of people. They look at people as the "average person" forgetting (or not caring) that no such animal exists. This is so because they need to make crisp decisions that will have the desired effect in the elections. They cannot seem vacillant or indecisive and therefore they cannot cater to different peoples' opinions by running through a number of what-if scenarios. As such they don't want distributed feedback or opinions but only the summarized results of polls. True, they want polls to be accurate and for that they need large amounts of people answering truthfully, but that's it. Beyond this point they don't want to answer to anybody. The structure that best responds to this premise is hierarchical.

People on the other hand are usually proud of their achievements. They want as many people to stroke their egos and to accomplish this they want to expose their achievements to as many people as possible. As this becomes competitive, any advantage that can be gained will be accepted. Furthermore, oftentimes people are faced with problems they can't resolve and need help. The easier way to do so is to expose the object, idea or problem to a crowd and wait for feedback. The larger the crowd the better the feedback because sooner or later somebody will come up with the solution which would seem quite obvious to this person (but nobody else). There is not only safety in numbers but power too. But for this to work we need a networked structure.

Good data versus complex explanations

Politicians need to make definitive decisions. For that they need straightforward answers and images and there is nothing as straightforward as data formatted in a concise and intelligent manner. The corporate version of this principle is simple: give me a Powerpoint presentation or give me death! Lengthy explanations lead to complex thinking upon which is difficult to make decisions. A hierarchical structure provides better summarizing capabilities because layers are under direct orders to do so and to reject complex explanations.

People, on the other hand, do not have an army of minions to do their bidding and to collect and crunch extensive numbers. Data tends to be scarce while explanations plentiful. Everybody has an opinion. As such the only thing that we can do is to sift through the many explanations/solutions offered to us and pick the one that looks the most promising. Of course, we will keep our options open and many of us will not accept an explanation directly but will modify it with other explanations until it significantly improved. This is the scientific way. One builds ideas on top of ideas. But for that we need ideas and a networked structure is the best one to provide them.

What goes around comes around

Politicians are in the business of lying. This is so because they have no other means of getting elected (for a lengthy explanation you may want to check Government Morality or Politicians And Bureaucrats Job Security Through Misery). As such they treat people as data sources and nothing else during electoral times. They are there to provide the necessary feedback to get the politician elected. However, once the election is over, people have fulfilled their role and their opinions are thoroughly discarded. The problem is that people does the same to politicians (see In Government We Distrust). In a situation such as this and in order to maintain control, a hierarchical structure is necessary.

People have a different point of view. They are interested (to a degree) on what other people have to say or how other people may help them. People see people as resources and the more you have the better off you are because you have more places where to ask help from. People also understand that this privilege comes with a price. You must also help others in order to maintain those resources. In other words, people voluntarily agree to have and be part of a mutually supporting network. Thus, a network structure is the most appropriate one.

Other peoples' ideas

Politicians are sharpshooters in terms of ideas. They want specific ideas that they can use precisely and accurately to win elections and they don't care where they get them. Plagiarism is only a tool. Normally a large selection of ideas would be pouring in from peers. Unfortunately (or fortunately for us), politicians do not have too many peers and each one of them is out looking for themselves and their own jobs. People (those who vote) are pretty much useless when it comes to provide useful ideas. And so politicians need an army of minions searching for new ideas to use; in other words, they need an organization they can control and give orders to. This means a hierarchical organization.

People are out to solve their problems. As such they don't mind using other peoples' ideas and as a matter of fact, they are usually delighted with people suggesting implement them. People want solutions and they don't mind whose solutions they may be. The larger the selection of potential ideas or solutions, the better off people are, but this necessitates a networked structure.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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