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Frances Bell

I agree about metaphors - use them till they break then try another one. Regarding reciprocity, there has been a lot of work done on this in game theory, virtual community and biological sciences as well as economics http://royalsocietypublishing.org/search?fulltext=generalized+reciprocity&submit=yes&journalcode=roybiogmem|royobits|roybiolett|royinterface|roynotesrec|royprs|royprsa|royprsb|roypt|roypta|royptb&x=0&y=0 It doesn't have to be tit for tat, can also be indirect and generalized. These can be seen as group phenomena but that wouldn't endear them to Stephen Downes ;)

Ed Webb

I'm a socialist, although whether I'm lovable or not I'll leave to others to judge, and I find your metaphor both inoffensive and useful. (I suspect Stephen is in fact an anarchist, but that's off topic). One value of using this particular metaphor is that it can help translate social network behaviour for non-users, show the rationality of what might appear irrational when viewed from outside. And talk of Darwin brings to mind recently published work on the biological and evolutionary bases of altruism, which also show both the collective and individual payoffs of the kind of behaviour that make one a good citizen of social networks - reputation, reciprocity, solidarity, group survival.


Frances and Ed - thanks, both great comments. You're right, we can borrow from a whole set of nature metaphors too - the game theory/benevolence/altruistic behaviour stuff is rich in this, and I hadn't made that connection. I may have a read and come back on that. And Ed, course you're lovable :)

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