Melvin Conway, How do committees invent? (1968)

Committees Paper.

As Conway states in his retrospective summary:

To save you the trouble of wading through 45 paragraphs to find the thesis, I’ll give an informal version of it to you now: Any organization that designs a system (defined more broadly here than just information systems) will inevitably produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure. This turns out to be a principle with much broader utility than in software engineering, where references to it usually occur. I invite you to read the paper, then look around to find applications. My current favorite is the complex of social issues encompassing poverty in America: access to labor markets, housing, education, and health care. After reading the paper, think about how the structures of our various governments affect their approaches to this system.

Does this principle also work inversely? In organising productive communities, especially those working on sourcecode, my working thesis has long been that the architecture of the code informs the architecture of the community. “Monolithic” architectures (which some would just say is another term for, “too big”) tend to processes that more modular ones would find at best hierarchical and probably unacceptable. And we all know how very hard it is to change a system of power, especially one that has operated more or less well enough for years, to something that implicitly limits the power of those who had it before.

Conway’s very famous paper is here.

ICTs for Development

ICTs for Development | Talking about information and communication technologies and socio-economic development.

This blog nicely centralises several threads. It’s anchor lies with U of Manchester (land of the origin of the Industrial Revolution, so long ago), but its reach goes far beyond that.

For me, as a community strategist, I am keenly interested in the kinds of technology that any given productive community adopts. There is no single flavour that suits all tastes; much depends on locality and on the quality and nature of the infrastructure, and this is true regardless of the ultimate (or even initial) internationality of the project.


How does a Mooc differ from other courses?

If a MOOC instructor moves, who keeps the intellectual property rights? | Inside Higher Ed.

The article doesn’t really touch on the technological element. Professors use university-provided infrastructure, usually of the bricks and mortar variety (ivy optional); Moocs may use a variety of technologies but not bricks nor mortar. Moocs are probably–one hopes–more than videos or fancy PowerPoint slides. They could include a range of interactive elements. And the particular technology used by a Mooc is likely owned by the institution employing the professor, who has created the course. Moving from one institution to another, in many places an exceptional area of intellectual property identity favouring professorial ownership, thus could be complicated by differences in technology and infrastructure.

The differences that technology make to community identity and possibility, as well as to the degrees of practical freedom, come up all the time in open source environments. Having such a manifold of technologies, as well as, inevitably, licenses and governance protocols, does not produce the best environment for collaborative work and innovation. But it does provide for no end of political machinations and tactical market plays; for business (and politics) as usual.

Never say never

“Storage of IBM record cards at the Federal records center in Alexandria, Virginia, November 1959. Between 1950 and 1966 the records centers received millions of cubic feet of records, saving the federal government more than the total spent for the entire operation of the National Archives Records Service.” Note: There are about 20 rows of pallets visible, each row is 15 pallets wide, pallets are stacked two high (at least). Each pallet contains 45 boxes of punched cards. Standard card boxes contained 2000 cards. Each card held up to 80 characters, for a total of about 4.3 billion characters of data in this storage facility – about the same as a 4Gb flash drive.

via File:IBM card storage.NARA.jpg – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Twitter mapped: And it’s useful. But how would you use the data?

Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

The Journal of Community Informatics

The Journal of Community Informatics.


The Journal of Community Informatics
Vol 10, No 1 (2014)
Table of Contents

Beyond Access: Libraries are the New Telecentres
	Michael Gurstein

Local e-Government in Sweden - Municipal Contact Center implementation with
focus on Citizens and Public Administrators
	Irene Cecilia Bernhard

Bridging the Digital Divide in Dunn County, Wisconsin: A Case Study of NPO
use of ICT
	Elizabeth Bogner,	Kevin W. Tharp,	Mary McManus

Community, Group and Individual: A Framework for Designing Community
	Sheena L. Erete

Shared identity and personal tie in influencing cooperative behavior
	Hao Jiang,	John M. Carroll

Failures and success in using webcasts, discussion forums, Twitter, and
email to engage older people and other stakeholders in rural ageing
	Ray B Jones,	Janet Smithson,	Catherine Hennessy

From Pebble to Avalanche: How Information and Communications Technologies
Empowered Underprivileged Actors Through Ages
	Piotr Konieczny

Exploring the Formation of Social Capital in a Malaysia Virtual Community
	Dr. Shafiz Affendi Mohd Yusof,	Kamarul Faizal Hashim

Emergent digital activism: The generational/technological connection
	Fernando Adolfo Mora

Drive-by Wi-Fi and digital storytelling: development and co-creation
	Jo Tacchi,	Kathi R Kitner,	Kiran Mulenahalli

How Does Internet Usage Influence On Social Capital, Connectedness, Success
And Well-Being Of Grassroots Level Inventors In Sri Lanka?
	Chaminda Nalaka Wickramasinghe,	Nobaya Ahmad

Internet Access At Public Access Venues In A Developing Countries: Lessons
from Yogyakarta, Indonesia
	Stevanus Wisnu Wijaya,	Agnes Maria Polina

Changing youths role in development through ICT enterprise and investment
	Michael D Williams

Research Methods: Information, systems and contexts
	Martin Wolske

Case Studies
Engaging Stakeholders: The First Step to Increasing Digital Inclusion
	Angela Siefer

Notes from the field
An Inquiry into Community Members’ Use and Attitudes toward Technology in
Mishkeegogamang First Nation
	Connie Gray-McKay,	Kerri L. Gibson,	Susan O'Donnell,	The People of

Seven ways Microsoft Excel could change the world

Seven ways Microsoft Excel could change the world | News |


No doubt, the reader, if any, of this incredibly boring blog has already learned of how some UK government offices are supposedly switching to open source alternatives to that moneysucker, Microsoft Office. Included and named: OpenOffice, my old and continuing love and life (and destiny, it seems).

But here’s a charming article on the joys of Excel. Granted, Excel has seldom given me joy. But I do recognize that it is the best of Office and the one module that few who use it dedicatedly would want to give up. (I actually believe no one should really give up the tools of production they prefer but that all tools of production should be made available to those who need them, and that implies sustainable development à la open source.)

Why Your Startup Can’t Find Developers

Why Your Startup Can’t Find Developers ⚙ Co.Labs ⚙ code + community.


…. and I, like many others, have probably come across more than enough companies evidencing these flaws….

Gamification Done Right

Gamers Solve RNA Structures | The Scientist Magazine®.

The point is not to treat the participants as children or to offer more or less bogus rewards for work (and then pretend that it’s been turned to play) but to articulate an environment where free flows of ideas and achievements are encouraged.

5 of the most famous (and effective) growth hacks of all time – The Next Web

5 of the most famous (and effective) growth hacks of all time – The Next Web.

These are not dumb ideas. They are kind of obvious, but that’s only because I and others have also thought of them. But that’s also irrelevant. These ideas actually work, and there is even theoretical backing that I can cite for them–always a plus, for me.


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