Not Dense but Scale-free Networks At Work in 2050

February 6th, 2006

Thomas George said (our emphasis added):

here is one way to look at the possible vision of a self empowered world of Anthea and Mfume - what is the “enabling environment” in which the self empowered individual can unleash his/her potential given the unpredictable nature of human interactions?

Lars Hasselblad Torres said (our emphasis added):

similarly, i have a sense that this idea of “self-empowered” might not be unlike “free market,” in the sense that there are numerous mechanisms (ie subsidies) in place that government, big business and civil society provide, create the “environment” as you nicely put it that support individual agency.

so certainly “dense social networks” might be one factor; the technology might be superfluous, though perhaps vital for empowerment when those networks exist in the absence of abundance…?

Thomas and Lars, your insightful comments give us a wonderful context to go a little deeper into the connection of network theory to the mechanisms, in your context Lars, of self empowerment.

We (Jim and Timlynn) met in the early 1980s in the doctoral program in Mathematical Social Sciences at UC, Irvine (now called the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences). The more popular term for this domain of study today is social networks. Then as now, the mathematical foundation of social network theory was graph theory. In the last twenty-five years, network theory (an application of graph theory) has exploded as a domain of science in its own right.

One of the most interesting, counterintuitive, and widely-applicable discoveries of network theory is that of the scale-free network. In its simplest terms, a scale-free network is a random network which exhibits the characteristics that some nodes are highly connected (so-called hubs) while others are only minimally connected (outliers). By example, our road system is a random network that is a dense network of many redundant interconnections while our airline transportation system is a scale-free network with a few hyper-connected hubs that connect (via “spoke” links) to everyplace else. You can’t get from Point A to Point B without traveling through a hub point.

So Lars, it would be more accurate to say that the enabler of self-empowerment is not a dense social network, but an effective and inclusive collection of scale-free networks. To which Thomas would ask, what kind of scale-free network would make an enabling environment for self empowerment? To which we would reply, entrepreneurial community ecosystems.

Entrepreneurial Community Ecosystems: The Next eBay!?

Entrepreneurial community ecosystems are a combination of person-to-person small producer supply chains seamlessly integrated with person-to-person distribution marketplaces. These alternative markets are powered by “Who, How, and Why” consumer purchase dynamics rather than by “How Much and Where” (price and distribution channel control). An effective entrepreneurial community ecosystem will shift the focus from the tight coupling of price-to-product to that of the value of the impact to the participants in the value chain that bring buyer and seller together.

eBay has built an empire with some smart software that enables the creation of an efficient scale-free Network Effect based on that software’s ability to create a marketplace built on buy-seller dyads. (See sidebar.) In this case, the eBay business model intentionally disintermediates (cuts out) the so-called “middle man.” An entrepreneurial community ecosystem will do just the opposite. It will intentionally intermediate to create value-generating impact chains. (See for more as well The Yin-Yang of e-Commerce Engines.)

In order to have entrepreneurial community ecosystems and their alternative marketplaces by 2050, we need to start today doing the applied R&D to create the business models and associated software infrastructures to make them easy to create and efficient to maintain. And this need is not a vision that needs to be fulfilled by 2050. Christina and the Life in Africa folks need this software platform today. So does Mark Grimes and his Ned project. So too do a number of other social entrepreneurs active here on ONet.

The time is now, and Omidyar Network is the ideal Executive Producer to partner with ONetizens actively engaged in this shared mission to expand the domain of social enterprise.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Entry Filed under: Entrepreneurial Community Ecosystems, Globalization 3.0 and the Small Is Good World, Tech Talk

Not Dense but Scale-free Networks At Work in 2050

February 6th, 2006

Thomas George said (our emphasis added):

here is one way to look at the possible vision of a self empowered world of Anthea and Mfume - what is the “enabling environment” in which the self empowered individual can unleash his/her potential given the unpredictable nature of human interactions?

Lars Hasselblad Torres said (our emphasis added):

similarly, i have a sense that this idea of “self-empowered” might not be unlike “free market,” in the sense that there are numerous mechanisms (ie subsidies) in place that government, big business and civil society provide, create the “environment” as you nicely put it that support individual agency.

so certainly “dense social networks” might be one factor; the technology might be superfluous, though perhaps vital for empowerment when those networks exist in the absence of abundance…?

Thomas and Lars, your insightful comments give us a wonderful context to go a little deeper into the connection of network theory to the mechanisms, in your context Lars, of self empowerment.

We (Jim and Timlynn) met in the early 1980s in the doctoral program in Mathematical Social Sciences at UC, Irvine (now called the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences). The more popular term for this domain of study today is social networks. Then as now, the mathematical foundation of social network theory was graph theory. In the last twenty-five years, network theory (an application of graph theory) has exploded as a domain of science in its own right.

One of the most interesting, counterintuitive, and widely-applicable discoveries of network theory is that of the scale-free network. In its simplest terms, a scale-free network is a random network which exhibits the characteristics that some nodes are highly connected (so-called hubs) while others are only minimally connected (outliers). By example, our road system is a random network that is a dense network of many redundant interconnections while our airline transportation system is a scale-free network with a few hyper-connected hubs that connect (via “spoke” links) to everyplace else. You can’t get from Point A to Point B without traveling through a hub point.

So Lars, it would be more accurate to say that the enabler of self-empowerment is not a dense social network, but an effective and inclusive collection of scale-free networks. To which Thomas would ask, what kind of scale-free network would make an enabling environment for self empowerment? To which we would reply, entrepreneurial community ecosystems.

Entrepreneurial Community Ecosystems: The Next eBay!?

Entrepreneurial community ecosystems are a combination of person-to-person small producer supply chains seamlessly integrated with person-to-person distribution marketplaces. These alternative markets are powered by “Who, How, and Why” consumer purchase dynamics rather than by “How Much and Where” (price and distribution channel control). An effective entrepreneurial community ecosystem will shift the focus from the tight coupling of price-to-product to that of the value of the impact to the participants in the value chain that bring buyer and seller together.

eBay has built an empire with some smart software that enables the creation of an efficient scale-free Network Effect based on that software’s ability to create a marketplace built on buy-seller dyads. (See sidebar.) In this case, the eBay business model intentionally disintermediates (cuts out) the so-called “middle man.” An entrepreneurial community ecosystem will do just the opposite. It will intentionally intermediate to create value-generating impact chains. (See for more as well The Yin-Yang of e-Commerce Engines.)

In order to have entrepreneurial community ecosystems and their alternative marketplaces by 2050, we need to start today doing the applied R&D to create the business models and associated software infrastructures to make them easy to create and efficient to maintain. And this need is not a vision that needs to be fulfilled by 2050. Christina and the Life in Africa folks need this software platform today. So does Mark Grimes and his Ned project. So too do a number of other social entrepreneurs active here on ONet.

The time is now, and Omidyar Network is the ideal Executive Producer to partner with ONetizens actively engaged in this shared mission to expand the domain of social enterprise.

–Sohodojo Jim and Timlynn–

Entry Filed under: Entrepreneurial Community Ecosystems, Globalization 3.0 and the Small Is Good World, Tech Talk


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