To a patriarchist*, the Dean campaign could mean the end of the world as it should be. While wishful thinking will prompt denial and grief anger, a more disciplined assessment would cause any elitist to quake at the possibility, slight, thank Gawd, but still too frightening to consider, that the proletariat might now have the means to sink the patriarchal world into anarchy.
Sir, There may be a vulnerability…”
There are terrorists among us. For patriarchist leaders, democracy is a form of anarchy, as Lance Knobel points out today. Patriachist Americans also feel that society might be endangered by a President untethered from the hierarchy of large organizations so beloved by the politicians. Some feel terror at the thought of a non-Bush president, even though Dubya is the only President who’s ever had a major terrorist attack happen on his watch.
It makes you wonder if we might be safer with a President who knows first-hand how a self-organizing smart mob works.
Krebs used public knowledge to uncloak obscure relationships:
Clue 2 Gary Wolf is writing a story for Wired about Howard Dean’s Internet campaign, trying to figure out how the smart mob that is the campaign functions, and whether or not it actually can be managed. Wolf finds this to be such a challenge that he’s asked his own smart mob–his readers–to help him write the story.
To catalyze his network, Wolf has posted a “retroactive manifesto.” He’s asking us to imagine that the Dean campaign as we now see it had sprung out of a manifesto. By laying down the design criteria which might produce the campaign, he hopes we all can better understand it. And then he’ll take our collective work and put it under his byline. Following Dan Gillmor‘s example, Gary Wolf implies that he can learn more from his readers than we learn from him:
When you look at both stories–Krebs’ search for network connectors and Wolf’s use of one network to understand another–you get it that Al Qaeda and the Dean campaign are both self-organizing, disruptive networks. Further, both have been catalyzed by a strong leader but neither depends on the leader for specific direction. In fact, each network is more a response to the strict hierarchy it opposes than the result of a purpose-built hierarchical organization.
The Smartest Network Wins…
…is how David Weinberger puts it. We can now see that our nation’s hierarchical security model is as vulnerable to the network model as circuit-switching phone companies are to packet-switching guerilla protocols. In military terms, we look like the Red Coats marching down a road while the Green Mountain Boys pick them off from the woods.
What if the Dean campaign prevails over the many hierarchies that want him to fail? If so, it will be because there’s something intrinsically superior in the nature of his accidental organization vs. everyone else’s explicit organizing. Howard Bloom would suggest that the Dean campaign is a Darwinist experiment by the American superorganism to find a way to defend itself from a previously unknown threat. It’s safe to say that a Dean administration will seek novel ways to combine information and make connections that our current hierarchy chooses to ignore, provably to our peril. Who knows? Maybe even Glenn will learn to embrace the only Internet candidate.
To Catch a Thief…
The patriarchists among us fear the Dean terrorist network as much as Al Qaeda, perhaps more. They’ve forgotten that the 13 colonies were a self-organizing network that overthrew a loathsome hierarchy. They should take comfort knowing that it takes one to know one.