One Sentence Summary:
"What we now know about the physics and architecture of RF communications contradicts the 'property' model of spectrum and this paper serves as a call to action to re-architect spectrum using a commons-based model."
- While it is possible to create wireless communication networks in which available capacity grows with the number of users, currently regimes equate spectrum to property and use a property rights based regime to allocate and coordinate usage among multiple technology areas. The result is fixed capacity for each technology area.
- Introducing cooperation in capacity regimes for wireless networks results in models in which capacity increases as users are added.
- Models have been proposed in which capacity grows as the square root of the number of users.
- The author suggests that there are good technical reasons to believe that cooperative networks can be created in which capacity scales proportionally with the number of users.
- The available options within a particular cooperative wireless network would grow according to Metcalfe's (N^2 for pairwise transactions) and Reed's (2^N for options in forming groups) Laws.
- The current Internet regime for wired communication was formed from 25 years of innovation in an open and experimental environment and differs significantly from the previous wired communications regime that grew under the control of the telecommunications provider.
- The author calls for the development of an RF network regime using an open and experimental regime as a starting point to encourage cooperation and innovation in much the same way that the early Internet provided a starting point from which the current Internet was evolved.
- The article does not discuss whether and how cooperative networks provide for the guaranteed coordinated access to capacity.
One Paragraph Summary:
The current regime for allocating and coordinating the use of spectrum across multiple technology areas uses a property based scheme to subdivide and fix the capacity available to each technology area. Cooperative regimes have been proposed which have the advantage of increasing available capacity as the number of users in a wireless communications network increases. In addition, the available possible pairing and grouping options of a cooperative network would grow according to Metcalfe's and Reed's Law respectively. The author concludes that spectrum does not behave like ordinary property and requires a regime that is commons based. Since no obvious regime exists, the author calls for the development of such a regime by starting with ï¿½a regime that allows wireless networks to interoperate and communicate in the use of “spectrum” in an open and experimental way, just as the Internet did for wired digital communications.
One Page Summary:
Currently, spectrum in wireless networks is allocated using a property based scheme. This solves the problem of interference by providing coordinated access to capacity for users of multiple technologies at the cost of fixing the available capacity for each technology area. Recently, architectures have been proposed that use a cooperative strategy for capacity allocation. These have the advantage of increasing available capacity with the number of users. The author believes that cooperative wireless networks could be created that provide capacity that scales proportional to the number of users. In addition, a cooperative wireless network would have increased options with respect to Metcalfe's Law, the number of pairwise transactions that could occur would grow as N**2, and Reed's Law, the number of groups that could be formed would grow as 2**N.
The author argues that the scaling of capacity available in wireless networks indicates that spectrum does not behave like ordinary property and requires a different commons based allocation and coordination regime one that encourages cooperation among users in order to increase available capacity. No obvious regime exists today. However, the current Internet regime for wired communication was formed from 25 years of innovation in an open and experimental environment. The resulting regime differs significantly from the previous regime that grew under the control of the telecommunications provider. The author calls for the development of a cooperative wireless network regime by starting with an open and experimental regime that encourages cooperation much the same as the starting point for the current Internet regime for wired digital communications.
One Sentence Summary:
While the Internet phenomenon is often referred to as an “Information Revolution,” Michael Schrage says this is a misnomer and claims it is more accurate to state that the world is in the midst of a Relationship Revolution.
- 58% of people see themselves as passengers rather than drivers on the new Information Superhighway.
- 51% of adults think the Internet phenomenon is more an example of ‘media hype’ than a fundamental change in this society’s technology.
- 40% of the general public expect their computers to be more important than their cars ten years from now.
- 76 % of people view the Internet and new computer technology as technologies that will allow them to do their job better and more efficiently, rather than as a threat that someday may replace them in their job.
- 76% of people believe that computers, computer networks and e-mail have strengthened, their relationships with the people they work with.
- 73% think that the private sector rather than government should subsidize research that further develops the Information Superhighway.
- 64% believe the Internet should be kept tax free.
- 74% don’t think the government should be able to read private email even if it would reduce crime.
- 53% of Generation X and 59% of the Baby Boomers think computers and the net have had a significantly greater impact on their lives than cable TV and VCRs.
from the Merrill Lynch Forum
One Paragraph Summary:
The rapid growth and expansion of digital technologies have created the impression that we are in the midst of an Information Revolution, living in an Information Age, or that we have, at least, created an Information Economy. According to Shrage such a view is myopic. Thinking that the Internet is about information is like thinking that the internal combustion engine is about processing gasoline. It’s true that the impact of digital technologies on popular culture, financial markets, health care, etc. is causing a significant revolution, but the biggest impact the technology is having is on the relationship between people and organizations.
One Page Summary:
“Along every conceivable dimension — from the intimate to the institutional — digital media force both individuals and organizations to redefine what kind of relationships create value.” The result of this paradigm shift isn’t about data and information, it’s about the value and priority that people place on the quantity and quality of their relationships.
Significant advances in technology have always altered how we perceive ourselves and our relationships. The automobile had an impact beyond simply moving from point to point B, and TV had an impact beyond delivering images and sound. Both of those wrought real and profound cultural change. Whenever a new medium emerges we have to look beyond the simple mechanics of the medium to the impact the medium has on the community. What’s important to recognize is that these new digital technologies aren’t simply evolutions of preceding technologies, but that these new technologies are now networked with each other. These new networks between networks have resulted in new relationships between networks that, in turn, have created new kinds of relationships between people.
This new phase of networked technologies allows individuals and institutions alike to create new ways of interaction. Intimacy, anonymity, trust, openness, access, passion, negotiation, hierarchy, coordination and collaboration can all be mediated, monitored and managed via networks ostensibly designed to carry bits. The value challenge has shifted from gathering and disseminating information to packaging and bundling it in unexpected ways.
What people crave is the chance to communicate and relate to each other in new ways – not simply to have access to a vast feast of information. The new technologies are directly related to the essence of being human. They challenge and stretch the traditional meaning of concepts like relationship, community and interpersonal expression. People expect more from these new technologies than simple job improvement, they want it to improve their working relationships with their boss, their colleagues, their subordinates and their clients.
Ultimately what is critical to people is value, and it is people, not information, that create value. According to “Netizens” their increased sense of belonging, of being part of a larger community, greatly outweighs the benefits of having a mass of information available. Failing to understand the transformational affects of the digital technology on culture itself will result in missed opportunities.
One Sentence Summary:
In this paper, Benkler demonstrates that regulatory policy in the digitally networked environment is being used to replicate the current mass media structure in which individuals are passive consumers and argues that regulatory policy should develop and sustain an information commons for the consumption, production and exchange of information by active users.
- Information and communication regulatory policy should be focused on ensuring a stable system that supports active "peer" users who produce and consume information in the digitally networked environment as opposed to the current mass media system in which a few commercial producers deliver content to a large number of passive consumers. Benkler argues that regulatory policy should develop and sustain an information commons (for the consumption, production and exchange of information by users) and that provisions be designed for the access of information that is not or cannot be held in common.
- A user is an individual who consumes information but also reworks information and sends it to others (or produces new information). The unregulated Internet of the 1990s made it possible for peer users to emerge. This is in contrast to a passive consumer who consumes but does not produce or exchange information.
- People want to be users, as evidenced by the Internet and the fact that people using telephones have spent more than on "newspapers, magazines, broadcast cable, and movies combined" in order to participate in communication.
- For the past half century, our information and communication structure has been one of mass media - a small number of professional producers create content for the widest possible set of passive consumers. This has resulted in today's powerful mass media structure. Attempts are ongoing to replicate the same structure in the digitally networked environment. Things will continue on this path so long as regulatory policy is one that seeks to provide better service to consumers as opposed to one that supports and evolves peer use. That is, the goal of regulatory policy must be seen as enabling use and that consumption, production, and exchange of content is the purview of users.
- Technologically today, because of the digitally networked environment and through appropriate regulatory policy, it is possible to develop a system in which individuals are free to participate in the consumption, production, and exchange of information - an information commons. However, such a system is not guaranteed and appropriate regulatory choices must be made at all levels (physical layer, logical layer, and content layer) to ensure a commons.
- The Supreme Court's view of the First Amendment continues to be that it provides for "robust debate, diversity of viewpoints, and individual expressive freedom" as opposed to the view that it provides a technical rule against regulation as regulation. At the same time, mass media has become technically, economically, and legally entrenched and government regulation seeks to counteract the potentially ill-effects on the intent of the First Amendment. The reality is that mass media provides very few individuals or organizations with access to communication pathways, and hence without regulation and maybe in spite of it, it is possible for this reality to inhibit the intent of the First Amendment.
- The goals of current communications regulation are to uphold the intent of the first amendment and, as a technology, the digitally networked environment provides a better means with which to actually realize these goals. However, regulation would still be required to ensure that we don't, through regulation, replicate the current mass media structure.
- Benkler provides legal and regulatory examples of the reproduction of the mass media producer-consumer model at the content, logical, and physical layers of the digitally networked environment. At the content layer, intellectual property rights are used to deny use that provides public discourse. At the logical layer, owners of the logical layer are allowed to design that layer to protect the use of their content even for uses that are privileged by law. At the physical layer, the FCC has gone in two opposing directions by both created a commons of digital spectrum and perpetuated the current broadcast system with the allocation of digital spectrum.
- In cable broadband, providers cite technical reasons for creating a system that provides significantly larger downstream capacity than upstream capacity and then prohibit customers from moving from consumers to users by hosting servers that serve up content.
Federal Communications Law Journal Vol. 52 pp. 561-579
One Paragraph Summary:
Currently, regulatory policy in the digitally networked environment is being used to replicate the current mass media structure in which individuals are passive consumers obtaining information and content from a few commercial producers. But people want to be users as is evidenced by the Internet and the fact that people using telephones have spent more than on "newspapers, magazines, broadcast cable, and movies combined "in order to participate in peer communication. Today, technologically through the digitally networked environment and through appropriate regulatory policy, it is possible to develop a system in which individuals are free to participate in the consumption, production, and exchange of information - an information commons. However, such a system is not guaranteed and appropriate regulatory choices must be made at all levels (physical layer, logical layer, and content layer) to ensure a commons that supports active use as opposed to passive consumption.
One Page Summary:
Currently, regulatory policy in the digitally networked environment is being used to replicate the current mass media structure in which individuals are passive consumers obtaining information and content from a few commercial producers. In this paper, Benkler provides legal, regulatory, and technological examples of how the mass media producer-consumer model is being reproduced at the content, logical, and physical layers of the digitally networked environment. At the content layer, intellectual property rights are used to legally deny uses that purely provide for public discourse. At the logical layer, owners of the logical layer are allowed to design that layer to protect the use of their content even for uses that are privileged by law. At the physical layer, the FCC has gone in two opposing directions by both created a commons of digital spectrum and perpetuated the current broadcast system with the allocation of digital spectrum. And in cable broadband, providers cite "technical reasons" for creating a system that provides significantly larger downstream capacity than upstream capacity and that technically prohibits customers from becoming users by hosting servers that serve up content in both cases perpetuating the mass media producer-consumer model.
But people want to be users as is evidenced by the Internet and the fact that people using telephones have spent more than on "newspapers, magazines, broadcast cable, and movies combined" in order to participate in communication. Users consume information but also rework information and send it to others (or produce new information). The Supreme Court's view of the First Amendment has repeatedly upheld the notion of users in that it provides for "robust debate, diversity of viewpoints, and individual expressive freedom" as opposed to the view that it provides a technical rule against regulation as regulation. At the same time, mass media has become technically, economically, and legally entrenched and government regulation seeks to counteract the potentially ill-effects on the intent of the First Amendment. The reality is that mass media provides very few individuals or organizations with access to communication pathways, and hence without regulation and maybe in spite of it, it is possible for this reality to inhibit the intent of the First Amendment.
Benkler calls for regulatory policy to move away from providing better service to consumers and towards enabling use and that consumption, production, and exchange of content is the purview of users - a move from the mass media producer-consumer model to an information commons. Today, technologically through the digitally networked environment and through appropriate regulatory policy, it is possible to develop a system in which individuals are free to participate in the consumption, production, and exchange of information - an information commons. Such a system would provide the intent of the First Amendment as regulatory policy today seeks to provide in spite of the realities of the mass media producer consumer model. However, such a system is not guaranteed and is not without regulation and therefore appropriate regulatory choices must be made at all levels (physical layer, logical layer, and content layer) to ensure a commons.
One Sentence Summary:
Most issues related to the social, political and economic changes we are witnessing today due to the emergence and use of technologies of cooperation can be analyzed by using a matrix tracking levels of knowledge on one axis, and levels of interactivity of the other axis.
The changes brought about by the emergence and use of technologies of cooperation can be analyzed through a matrix tracking levels of knowledge on one axis, and levels of interactivity of the other axis.
Levels of Interactivity:
- Passive consumption: The consumer is getting products or services with no real interaction and no real choice. He has to take whatever is available.
- Self Service: The consumer is given the ability to choose between various products or services.
- DIY: Do It Yourself: The consumer starts getting involved in the value chain.
- Co-design: The consumer starts adding value by customizing the product and therefore defining his needs himself (as opposed to buying a product defined by the product management team).
- Co-creation: The consumer is involved in the design of the product or service itself.
Levels of knowledge
- Raw Data: Data, typically from measurements, or attributes (small, big, expensive, etc...)
- Information: Data that I can make sense of. Data within a referential or data that can be tied to a process, so that I establish a first level of knowledge. If I can measure, and if I can compare, I will be able to develop a better sense of understanding
- Classification, categorization: When I can better define the context, place the information into categories
- Process/Time: When you start introducing the concept of time, and evolution over time.
- Logic: When you understand enough of a thing that you can capture this understanding into a logical model. From this comes automation.
One Paragraph Summary:
The world is changing and we hear the thought leaders talk about crowdsourcing, collective intelligence, the power of networks, etc... All these major trends are impacting the social, political and economic arenas. Xavier Comtesse now proposes to look at these events through the lens of a matrix that tracks the various levels of knowledge on one axis, and the various levels of interactivity of the other axis.
The various levels of knowledge are Raw Data, Information, Classification/categorization, Process/Time, and Logic.
The various levels of interactivity are Passive consumption, Self Service, Do It Yourself, Co-design, and Co-creation.
Looking at such a matrix can help understand and analyze a disruptive process within a company, but also it can help analyze a market, or define a strategy or confirm product/service requirements.
The model has been tested against existing known cases and has been validated by entrepreneurs who have experienced transformation and witnessed the results of such disruption in their businesses. Similar to the fundamental change that Direct Democracy brought to Switzerland, the world seems to be evolving towards a Direct Economy that radically changes the underlying mechanism we rely on today.
One Page Summary:
The story starts at a banker's conference where Xavier was doing a presentation on e-Banking. The room suddenly woke up at the last slide when he offered a model to explain how banks could move forward. The impact was stunning, all of a sudden everybody wanted to jump into the discussion.
The model was the result of observations from Swissquote Inc, where intermediaries had become agents of change within the company and had help transform it into a hyperproductive company.
The model has since then been refined, with the definition of the "transformActors" and "ConsumActors", and the classification of knowledge (inspired from Mathematics) and interactivity along the 2 axis of a matrix.
The model has also been validated against 3 real cases with 3 Swiss companies: Swissquote, Largeur.com and Cla-Val.
- The problem:
low cost offshoring, baby boomers reaching retirement age, etcâ€¦ create tension in the economy. And the answer is not in lowering costs, but rather in achieving high productivity.
- The solution:
changing Consumers into ConsumActors. We have heard of crowdsourcing, but the real underlying change is that the customers are getting more involved into the value chain.
- Technologies of Cooperation
While technology helps improve processes, the real value behind these technologies is the shift in the interactivity between the producers and the consumers: consumers are getting used to getting more and more involved into the process (self service, product configuration and customization, etc...)
- Levels of interactivity
The level of interactivity that is possible with ConsumActors can be classified as follows:
- 4.1 Passive consumption:
The consumer is getting products or services with no real interaction and no real choice. He has to take whatever is available.
- 4.2 Self Service
The consumer is now given the ability to choose between various products or services. This first step is already a huge step forward, as the consumer can go around the vendor to pick and choose what he wants.
- 4.3 DIY: Do It Yourself
At this level, the consumer starts getting involved in the value chain. This is what IKEA offers, where you are not just buying a product, you are actually also delivering it to your home and building it yourself. This case is an example of the first disruption from the standard retail value chain.
- 4.4 Co-design
At this level, the consumer starts adding value by customizing the product and therefore defining his needs himself (as opposed to buying a product defined by the product management team). This is what Dell is asking from customers when they have to pick and choose options to build a computer.
- 4.5 Co-creation
This is the ultimate level of involvement, where the consumer is actually involved in the design of the product or service itself. This is what Open Source does for developers, and what Wikipedia does for knowledge consumers. Similarly Procter and Gamble has a "Connect and Develop" program that lets innovators define products.
- Levels of knowledge
Being able to interact at the various level listed above requires various levels of access to knowledge. For example co-designing a computer on the Dell website implies that the consumer has a good understanding of the various components and their importance within the system. A slow processor with lots of memory, or a fast processor with very little RAM are not going to be good options.
And then knowledge includes a notion of context that should also be taken into account: knowing that something is small is only useful relative to a context: is Jean small because he is only 4 years old, or is he small because most people his age are typically 5" tall?
Following these concepts, knowledge can be classified as follows:
- 5.1 Basic Knowledge
- 5.1.1 Raw Data
Data, typically from measurements, or attributes (small, big, expensive, etc...)
- 5.1.2 Information
Information is data that I can make sense of. Data within a referential or data that can be tied to a process, so that I can establish a first level of knowledge. If I can measure, and if I can compare, I will be able to develop a sense of understanding: Jean is 4 feet, and I can measure his classmates to decide whether Jean is small or not. From information I can develop basic knowledge.
- 5.2 Formal knowledge
- 5.2.1 Classification, categorization
This second level of knowledge is when I can better define the context. In the example of Jean, I can place the information into categories to reach another level of understanding: boy/girl, small/tall. By defining categories and sub-categories, I can refine the level of knowledge I have.
- 5.2.2 Process/Time
The third level of knowledge is when you start introducing the concept of time, and evolution over time. This introduces another level of complexity and another level of understanding beyond what can be known now.
- 5.2.3 Logic
The final level of knowledge is when you understand enough of a thing that you can capture this understanding into a logical model. From this comes automation. This is how we started building calculators, encapsulating logic into a machine, and now expanding to building transistors into microchips to build computers for example. It all seems as if mathematic algorithms were slowly but irreversibly being materialized into automated processes. And we are only at the very beginning of an exponential curve in this area.
- 5.3. Informal Knowledge
Another type of knowledge that will not be considered in this document, but should be mentioned, is informal knowledge.
- The matrix
Using the 2 axis that were defined, it is possible to create a matrix that can be used to resolve the issue of transferring production from the producer to the consumer.
On the vertical axis:
Data - info - classification/categories - time process - model
On the horizontal axis:
Receive - Self Service - Do It Yourself - Co-design - Co-creation
To use the matrix you need to start from the bottom left (data/Receive), to then evolve towards the right to include the consumer into the value chain and define the level of knowledge that needs to be transferred to the consumer to enable his involvement.
- The matrix can be used for several analytical purposes:
7.1 Historical analysis - the matrix can be used to compare the result of 2 strategies used at different times, to analyze why one worked better than the other:
Nestle had tried to sell Nespresso through the regular channels without much success. Then they decided to change strategy (break with history) and created the Club Nespresso, where customers are educated and provided with a tool to order directly online, which completely change the buying and consuming experience
- 7.2. Market analysis - the matrix can be used to compare the strategy of two different companies on the same market:
Napster introduced technology that allowed users to download songs for free. The technology also allowed mixing and matching of songs so that users could create their own CDs. The same concept was then used by Apple to create iTune and the iPod, while Sony decided to simply extend its existing model to make room for this new technology, but trying to keep as-is the control of the IP.
The matrix shows that the game was about adding a level of freedom in the consumption of songs, rather than just extending technology.
- 7.3 Strategic analysis - the matrix can be used to define where to direct future developments:
Telcos are being threatened by VOIP, which allows near free communication anywhere around the world. Several options are available for them to react: bundle services, or offer new services for mobile, where VOIP is not a player today. Docomo is now offering payments through mobile phones, thus starting to compete with banks. The matrix can help figure out which players they should work with to make this strategy successful
- 7.4 Positioning analysis - the matrix can help position a product on a market. A computer is a complex thing and I can decide to buy through an expert who will help me design the computer I need, or I can go to Dell to build online my own. The 2 market segments can co-exist today, but the matrix can help understand which market will survive in the long term
- Case studies
8.1 Swissquote (a Swiss equivalent of eTrade)
From the CEO prospective, the success of Swissquote is due to:
- Empowerment: providing the right information and tools to customers to allow them to trade online
- Monitoring: performing statistical analysis to evaluate risk, as a tool for both the bank and the users
- E-wealth management: tools to help users optimize their investments
One challenge was and still is the education of customers. 2 types of classes are offered: first step (free), and paying classes on specific topics. This is a very costly undertaking, a risk taken to help the transformation
The other challenge is to provide the right tools, allowing to perform complex operations while remaining user friendly. This challenge still needs to be addressed today.
Looking at the banking industry, there are 2 major trends that can be identified:
- Communities of practice are taking over the education of consumers and improved interactions
- Models need to be improved to help provide more sophisticated tools
The matrix can help clarify these trends and challenges
- 8.2 Largeur.com - citizen journalism
After several experiments, Largeur.com has settled for a model where they produce high quality journalism but getting the content from freelancers and offering aggressive prices. Once the customer base was established, they looked into opening the platform to students and other members of the civil society (teachers, thought leaders but also unemployed people), which are representative of the audience they are addressing already.
The media industry is organized around 3 major poles:
- Convergence (synergy between traditional media and the Internet) - Financial Times, Wall Street Journal
- Divergence (break from the traditional model to go towards a crowdsourcing approach) - OhMyNews
- Complementarities (compromise between the other two) - TSR.ch
The matrix can help rationalize the various content production and content delivery tools (blogs, RSS, Web, SMS/MMS, and Newspapers) to better understand the media industry
- 8.3 Cla-Val - pumps to regulate pressure
They have evolved around 4 major poles:
- Commoditization: they have accumulated over the years more than 100 standard products
- Customization: their customers cannot get an end to end solution from just the standard products
- Geographical expansion: the experience gained in the implementation of custom solutions opens new geographical markets and allows rapid expansion
- Customer innovation: customization has also introduced flexibility into the system, and combined with remote management capabilities has enabled co-innovation
The matrix clearly shows how this evolution was possible.
Direct economy is the result of 5 major factors:
- Introduction of the consumer into the value chain
- Death of the old intermediaries, to leave room for new types of interactions
- Empowerment of ordinary people to include them in the innovation process, which creates the issue of Intellectual Property and how to handle it
- Emergence of new business models that threaten the existing monopolies
- Emergence of new pricing models: donations (OhMyNews) or Bidding (EBay).
IKEA, Easyjet, Dell, Nokia, L'Oreal, Procter&Gamble, Swissquote are examples of the transformations that can be implemented. Companies have to move towards hypergrowth to survive.
What is interesting is that new sub-categories of products are being created in the process (song vs. album), that banks and credit cards were not setup to handle originally. Hel looks and The Satorialist are examples of what is happening in the fashion industry. Istockphoto, Innocentive or Marketocracy are example of consumer involvement in the value chain.
In conclusion, isn't it that the changes we are witnessing in the economy are similar to what happened with Direct Democracy in Switzerland?
The consumers have been empowered, and are we not slowly evolving towards a Direct Economy, completely changing the underlying principles of the Global Economy as we know it today?
While Switzerland introduced Direct Democracy, they are now lagging in their e-government implementation effort. The matrix can help understand what is happening and what needs to be done. It can help compare what is available today against what others in Europe are doing. The key is to enable the transformation towards the ultimate e-government, which is not a strategic option but rather an implementation issue to be resolved.
One Sentence Summary:
Innate human propensities for cooperation with strangers, shaped during the Pleistocene in response to rapidly changing environments, could have provided highly adaptive social instincts that more recently coevolved with cultural institutions; although the biological capacity for primate sociality evolved genetically, the authors propose that channeling of tribal instincts via symbol systems has involved a cultural transmission and selection that continues the evolution of cooperative human capacities at a cultural rather than genetic level — and pace.
- Genetically-evolved human capacities to invent and communicate led to social institutions that favored genotypes better able to live in cooperative groups human nature is, to a large degree, defined by our social capabilities -- but the invention of culture took the evolution of cooperation into the symbolic and out of the genetic level. Authors call this the "social instincts hypothesis."
- Culture is an inheritance system that uses symbols, imitation, norms, and learning to transmit behaviors, which are channeled by institutional workarounds that "take advantage of a psychology evolved to cooperate with distantly related and unrelated individuals belonging to the same symbolically marked 'tribe.'"
- "Humans are prone to cooperate, even with strangers; cooperation is contingent on many things, institutions matter, institutions are the product of cultural evolution, variation in institutions is huge."
- "We propose that group selection on cultural variation is at the heart of human cooperation, but we certainly recognize that our sociality is a complex system that includes many linked components. Surely, without punishment, language, technology, individual intelligence and inventiveness, ready establishment of reciprocal arrangements, prestige systems, and solutions to games of coordination, our societies would take on a distinctly different castâ€¦.Thus, a major constraint on explanations of human sociality is its systemic structure."
- "People are innately prepared to act as members of tribes, but culture tells us how to recognize who belongs to our tribes, what schedules of aid, praise, and punishment are due to tribal fellows, and how the tribe is to deal with other tribes: allies, enemies, and clients."
- Cultural evolution uses the same mechanisms as biological evolution, mobilizing capacities such as tribal cooperation for new purposes â€“ ideologies such as religions and empire became possible through symbolic media such as ritual and scripture, and organized larger and more complex institutions.
- Nationalism on the scale of modern states taps tribal social instincts of populations by means of literate communities and the institutions they enable. These are Benedict Anderson's "imagined communities." Anderson pointed to the newspaper in particular as the vehicle of mass media that enabled literate people to organize around shared cultural, economic, political interests.
Genetic and Cultural Evolution of Cooperation, ed. Peter Hammerstein, MIT Press, in cooperation with Dahlem University Press
One Paragraph Summary:
Culture the capability of human groups to transmit and decode knowledge across time and space, through the individual capacities of learning and imitation and via communication media such as speech and writing has driven the evolution of cooperation over the past 250,000 years. "We believe that the human capacity to live in larger-scale forms of tribal social organization evolved through a coevolutionary ratchet generated by the interaction of genes and culture. Rudimentary cooperative institutions favored genotypes that were better able to live in more cooperative groups." The willingness and toolset for cooperation with strangers helped our species evolve from lower primates and shaped human nature with a predisposition to cooperate with tribemates, but human-created (i.e., cultural) institutions used innate capacities as levers to overcome other limitations to human social cooperation. The capacity for "moral emotions" such as shame, for example, enable cultural workarounds such as the institutionalization of norms through altruistic punishment, that harmonize self-interest with group benefits.
One Page Summary:
Although Darwin's 19th century advocates stressed the role of competition in natural selection, Darwin established speculation about cultural evolution in regard to human cooperation: "It must not be forgotten that although a high standard of morality gives but slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over other men of the tribe, yet that an increase in the number of well-endowed men and an advancement in the standard of morality will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another. A tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to aid one another, and to sacrifice for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and t his would be natural selection."
The authors note that human social complexity is far beyond that of other social animals, and that biological mechanisms of kin selection and reciprocity are not adequate to fully explain human social behavior. Culture, defined as "information stored in individual brains (or in books and analogous media) that was acquired by imitation of, or teaching by others," has the properties of transmission forward through time and selection of successful strategies in common with genetic evolution. As Homo sapiens evolved, the mental and social capacity for cooperative work was highly adaptive for groups of small, relatively weak creatures with neither fangs nor claws nor wings. "Social instincts" enabled humans to band together in groups larger than the 50 individuals that our brain size allows in other primates. But that made cultural transmission of learning possible, which over-rode genetic group selection.
Although the Pleistocene era, with its radical climate changes, could have exerted long-term pressure on genetic group selection, the rapid evolution of social complexity over the past 10,000 years has not been long enough for significant genetic selection. Culture is both enabled by genetically-shaped human sociality, and is a means of progressively ratcheting mutually beneficial social cooperation. Once sociality, learning, and symbolic media make it possible to externalize and transmit individual learning, cooperative invention changes the game. Individual innovators can gain advantage through prestige and reputation, but only by displaying what they know, while learning and innovation enable the entire tribe to benefit from their innovations.
Culture harnesses and channels social instincts, enabling the creation of institutions. Norms enable the diffusion of enforcement of altruistic punishment through the population, leveraging emotions such as anger and shame to guard against free-riding, defection, and exploitation.