« Tribal Affiliations and Value - or - Don't Dis My Homies in Da Cubes | Main | TreeLink Relaunches a Beautiful New Site »

26 April 2008



"When two tribes go to war a point is all you can score"

sorry, i couldn't resist that

Jay Fienberg

I like the idea of your tribe types matrix, but I think "openness" is really an aggregate index, rather than an attribute, like your information and philosophy dimensions.

One way to think about this is that a tribe is essentially a kind of non-human person. And, like human individuals, tribes enter into relationships both intentionally and through circumstance. And tribes have histories that are inconsistent, e.g., sharing today, secretive tomorrow, etc.

So, we could look at a tribe as being "open" in the way we might look at a person being "open": both their intentions and their practice are factors.

Also, one way to think of all of the attributes you've described is as existing on a timeline. For example, "dogma" is a trend in time. So, one might ask: is the tribe becoming more or less defined by dogma.

Edward Vielmetti

There's a set of choices I run through when looking at groups, based on some work by Bob Parnes at UMich (his dissertation on Confer).

You break down groups (in this case online conferences) three ways:

Open vs closed: do you need permission to join, or can you just join.

Permanent vs temporary: is the group designed to last, or does it have some predetermined end date.

Broad vs. narrow: is there some topical focus which everything revolves around, or does anything go.

and then look at the combinations to see what you get.

The time-duration of the group is important, and I think one reason why people tend to get online things wrong. It can be really helpful to construct a temporary scaffolding to absorb the energy of a closed group of people with a narrow focus for a short while. If you really want to build for a long future there are things you do differently.

Edward Vielmetti

did you start reading "us and them" before writing this or after?

Jim Benson

Thanks guys,

Yes, I read Berreby's book around the time I started writing these. Or immediately before. But my thinking about these things started years ago as an Urban Planning student.

Why did certain neighborhoods become cohesive and close while others did not? Why did certain school districts "self-correct"? And many similar questions always left me frustrated.

The simple blame-driven reasons didn't work for me. "Parents are more involved" or "People don't care" etc.

In the 80s and 90s, group dynamics focused on strong behavioristic models which I really disliked. Again, they focused on blame and not on action.

Recent theories are more in line with my thinking - that social objects (and we as individuals are) fundamentally change with both context and construction. Over time, things change and responding to change is a primary feature of success.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo
Personal Kanban - The go-to website for making your work flow, lowering stress, and building better systems.

Modus Cooperandi - Jim and Toni's Collaborative Management consultancy.

Modus Institute - Online classes for Personal Kanban, Lean Knowledge Work, and the future of work.

Become a Fan