Digital Ecosystems

I was reading some news about Firefox this morning and I noticed Mike Shaver’s title at Mozilla. He’s Director of Ecosystem Development.

This is extremely exciting to see for me. You see a while back, I wrote something that I entitled Paradox: In Giving You Make Yourself Stronger. When I shared this with David Weinberger, he liked the premise of what I was trying to get across but he disagreed with one of my statements, that being “Is the Web like a body or organism?”.

I understand why. I mean the Web is made up of wires and networking (or is it tubes or laned highways, hehe, I can never remember). Therefore, no this hardware obviously can’t be alive on it’s own. It just wires. But that’s just it though. The Web isn’t just hardware. We ourselves are what make the Web like an organism because we ourselves are organisms. Therefore the Web is like an ecosystem because of us, not because of its hardware and wires.

That’s why when I learned about permaculture, particularly Dan Earle and Sue Hutchins site on A Permaculture Primer and later David Holmgren’s book Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability, I realized I was on to something. It just seemed like the more I read about permaculture and how it relates to ecosystems, the more I realized I was reading about something that relates to the Web as well. I mean there were some quotes relating to permaculture, that I had to stop and say “Am I reading about permaculture here or the Web?”. The following quote, for example, could have easily been within a book on best web design practices.

Aggregating design elements will bring varied activities together to share space, reinforce each other and eliminate…trips from one area to another. We are always searching for connections between parts of systems and between seemingly disparate systems to establish appropriate relationships in our design.

Anyways, it’s just nice to see more and more people over the past few years recognizing the fact that the Web is an ecosystem. That’s one reason why whenever someone asks about resources on online community development today, I always recommend David Holmgren’s book because there are so many principles within it than can be carried over (or translated I guess you could say) for the Web.

And finally in closing, below are the original entries I wrote about permaculture when I first learned about it (with the earliest post at the top).