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Stigmergizing

From the 'you learn something new every day' file... I saw a new word I had never heard of before: stigmergy. (Am I that out of it?)

This item comes from Poynter's E-Media Tidbits blog.

Word of the Day: Stigmergy
Reading Rohit Gupta's latest article on Online Journalism Review ("The avatar versus the journalist: Making meaning, finding truth"), I encountered a term that I had not seen before. "Stigmergy," according to Wikipedia's entry, was coined by French biologist Pierre-Paul Grassé in 1959 to refer to termite behavior. He defined it as: "Stimulation of workers by the performance they have achieved." More generally, it now refers to "a method of communication ... in which the individual parts of the system communicate with one another by modifying their local environment."

Under this definition, a wiki is a perfect example of a stigmergic system. Arguably, so are many other aspects of the Internet, including the "blogosphere," social networking sites, even discussion boards.

This site goes into much greater detail. It suggests, among other things, that to understand how the Web can be most effective as a collaborative environment, we need to take note of emerging research into the way the human brain works.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jul 22, 2005 at 12:14 PM


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