Modern Hunter Gatherer?

Web 2.0: Back to the “Hunter Gatherer” Society is an interesting take on what the social side of the web is about. As he says, “Goog questions to chew on”

Let’s start with this point from the article:

The interesting thing is that human behavior had evolved for a reason.

However, did we “evolve”, or more likely adapt, due to scale and technological advancement?. Think about the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions, suddenly people were more productive due to technology. People flocked to the cities and factories, because that’s where they needed to be to work.

The Enclosure movement and the British Agricultural Revolution made food production more efficient and less labour-intensive, encouraging the surplus population who could no longer find employment in agriculture into cottage industry, for example weaving, and in the longer term into the cities and the newly-developed factories.

From Wikipedia, Industrial Revolution

The problem now, is that our new machines don’t generate good output (information), people do. Information is not necessarily space constrained and the output is difficult to measure. Collaboration and social software removes some of the physical barriers to idea generation (distance, timezones, physical medium of exchange). It’s still technology that’s aiding the output, it’s just more efficient in moving the ideas, data and information around and providing some collation and framework.

Also from the “hunter gatherer” article:

Fact: trusted individuals are once again the source of news in a society (bloggers)

Fact: word of mouth is once again how news spreads (viral marketing)

I don’t think we ever got away from gossip or “do you know a good ….?” in society. Even pre-web. Where these trusted individuals voice there opionion is different, instead of TV, Books, Radio or Newspaper, we now have web. This medium is just more accessable and less edited. This can be seen as an adaption and not regression.

Gossip was the old form of viral marketing, it was just slower when you had to hear it at a dinner party, conference, office place coffee break. So was the “[Company Name] did a great job of painting my house/fixing my car” etc kind of marketing. It’s not new, just adapted.

Some of the old rules of economics don’t always fit well, (See Economics of Free Software), but technology still makes it easier and cheaper to produce your product, in this case information.

So “what is adapting to what”?

I think this time around, the web 2.0 (or whatever) is being created and adapted to humans, rather than humans adapting to the technology.

There’s also a theory, called Dunbars Number and sometimes monkeysphere which states there’s something magic about group sizes of 150. The theory goes that we can only maintain so many relationships, which is related to the size of our neo-cortex. Any group larger than this is difficult to maintain cohesiveness.

So what the @#$! does this have to do with social software?

These relationships or connections need not be constrained to those in your tribe, family, workplace, country etc.

I’ll put forward the notion we are not regressing to pre-agricultural, but exploiting, adapting and enhancing activities that are not physically constrained.

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