[p2p-research] Ted Leung on Design and Commons-based Production

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Aug 29 01:38:28 CEST 2009

Ryan Lanham wrote:
> http://www.sauria.com/blog/2009/08/27/design-and-commons-based-peer-production/

 From there: "Can we actually do design using the commonly accepted tools of 
e-mail, version control, wiki’s and bug trackers? The design process relies 
very heavily on visual communications. The code (including design and 
architecture of code) process is predominantly a text based process. It is 
very difficult to do design efficiently in a distributed setting using the 
existing stable of tools. This is going to be a challenge not just for 
designers but for many other problem domains that could benefit from 
commons-based peer production."

I think otherwise that essay could benefit by exploring this distinction 
about social processes versus stigmergy:
Stigmergic collaboration is the process of collaboration that utilizes an 
intervening encodable media such as a canvas, a word processing document, 
email or a wiki. Many if not most collaborative processes can be considered 
stigmergic collaboration as the use of encodable media is generally the 
norm. The employment of such media typically extends a collaborative group's 
reach enabling more participants to work across greater spans of geography 
and time, as well as extending group's memory and capacity to engage greater 
levels of complexity.
# 2.3.2 2. Collaboration is inherently composed of two primary components, 
without either of which collaboration cannot take place: social negotiation 
and creative output.
# 2.3.3 3. Collaboration in small groups (roughly 2-25) relies upon social 
negotiation to evolve and guide its process and creative output.
# 2.3.4 4. Collaboration in large groups (roughly 25-n) is dependent upon 

So, Ted Leung sees the valid difficulties in getting designers to work 
together *socially*, but is having trouble seeing the opportunities whereby 
they can build on each other's work *stigmergically*. For example, it may be 
hard for ten designers to agree on how to design a faucet, but it is fairly 
straightforward for someone to pick items from ten different free and open 
source designers to put in a bathroom design (faucet, towels, tiles, window, 
cabinet, lighting, drain, bathtub, outlets, mat).

--Paul Fernhout

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