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Community patterns and thinking of analogies

All these posts about communities and vibrancy inspired me to look at the problem from a different angle. Suddenly I came up with idea about investigation of social insects communities.

Photo of Vladimir Melnikov

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It’s amazing how man can learn from nature because nature is much smarter then we are (few examples from Jane Fulton-Suri). And here are some results I’ve achieved so far.

Insights and lessons are learned from ant communities:

  • Communication is a social glue.
  • There is no hierarchy.Every job is done without supervision or direction, and some members even switch jobs to meet the ever-changing needs of the community.
  • Everyone knows his place and role. There are specialization and personal responsibility for any community member.
  • Simple behavior and simple rules which are observed by every member of a community lead to the complicated dynamics and swarm intelligence.
  • If you don’t work and don’t bring food for the community you gonna be killed. On the other hand if you’re wounded or crippled other members feed you anytime you ask.
  • It’s largely a female communities. Males are not participate in community life. They have one job only and they do it then they die.
  • When number of members become too big community splits into several groups. Each group is independent and has its own part of an anthill. Members of different groups communicate to each other only within their ‘professional’ role. It means that ‘workers’ from one group communicate largely with ‘workers’ of other group but not with ‘solders’.
  • The larger group the faster its members move. Speed, communications’ frequency, vibrancy — all of that are stronger in huge communities.
  • People are not ants. People able to think — that’s the problem!

Also I discovered why these communities could actually be destroyed from inside.

  • War and terrorism among ants is not the worst scenario. It’s much more dangerous when Lomechusa beetle gets into community. It’s a drug dealer beetle which makes ants kind of drunk. One by one ants conceive a liking for Lomechusa’s juice.
  • All community is going down because more and more members start to think about their own pleasure. They stop working for community. Soon there is no enough food for everyone but still more and more ants become Lomechusa addicted. Community splits into individuals and die.

That’s a lot to think about because obviously ant communities show us some models which could be useful for human. And it’s so much easier to find these models looking at ants’ behavior rather than at human’s.

Few links:

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Photo of Stiven

"Social Biomimicry", I believe can develop into a whole new field, an area of focus for sustainable development.

An interesting project would be to organize all the social collaboration lessons learned from the diverse creatures in our planet in a wiki... a place were we can literally "go ask nature" for social management advice.

Photo of Vladimir

That's great idea, Stiven! It could be one of OpenIDEO projects.

Photo of Stiven

Thanks, I think so too... let's evolve it a bit more and propose it.

We can probably get a bulk of the material from the Biomimicry Institute ( ).

I also have a simple platform that I think can work as a beta.

Photo of Vladimir

We can try!

Photo of Paul

Lots of food for thought here both positive and negative. Will follow the discussion and participate when I can.

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