A succinct description of large social processes. For a more modern and functional take, and some practical solutions, see this lovely PDF by CAE (Critical Art Ensemble), Join the Community.
Subject: sociology Date: Thu, 4 Mar 1999 13:50:54 -0800 (PST) From: Randy Bush To: Tom Jennings From: "Donald E. Eastlake 3rd" Subject: Re: Draft new charter Date: Thu, 04 Mar 1999 00:19:20 -0500 Message-Id: <[email protected]> In connection with Dave's request, I would like to point out that social systems do not scale linearly. In particular, in the matter of dissent, some studies have been done. It is generally the case that a single dissenter will give up quickly while two mutually reinforcing dissenters will be much more stubborn. This continues to increase although beyond 3 or 4 there is little change. This means that as a group gets larger the probability approaches one that for any majority/consensus position, there will be a self reinforcing minority/splinter that will complain and fight the consensus more or less forever. Of course, the IETF may have attracted more that it's share of individuals who will stubbornly persist even in the absense of anyone supporting them but even there, you have somewhat the same effect. While strong clearly thought out technical dissent has its place and may force the consensus to sharpen its arugments and document more of its assumptions, beyond some limit it is counter productive. And even a single lunatic can produce a lot of noise and it takes just two of them, whether they agree or disagree, to converse at infinite length on a mailing list. While one luantic can be fairly easily filtered or ignored, by the time you have four or five of them chatting they generally clog things up and create a high percentage of the traffice and threaten to down out most participants. -- my emphasis (tomj) I'm not sure what the answer is but in the real world, the more people you have, generally the stricter the controls and the greater the contingency planning. Most people don't worry much about a party for 20 or maybe even 200 people. If you are running an event and having 20,000 or even 2,000 people at it and don't have a paid police detail or security personel and/or fire marshal and/or emergency medial personel on duty, you are at risk for negligence. Thanks, Donald PS: Another fascinating result of social research is that essentially all organizations of more than about 15 people are percieved as having a small group of insiders that control things. It turns out that the extent of this perception and the feeling of the average member about it are relatively independent of how open or closed the organization is or how much power whatever leaders there are actually have. As a result, almost all organizations have periodic attempts by "rebels" to take over from what they perceive as an entrenched old guard. Only something like 5% of such attempts are successful on the average, and when they are, generally within 3 months or so, the "rebels" are perceived as the new insiders.