One more from Downes: Principles of Resource Sharing
Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~:
"Self-organizing systems occur when local factors at the decision-making level form global systems. We look at them, and assume there must be a hierrchy - that the queen bee or the queen ant is making the decisions. But what is happening is that each member makes decisions independently, and information is shared. This also happens in physics, when there is a form shift, say, from liquid or solid. The 'decisions' are made at the molecular level, and once one molecule shifts, it quickly spreads to all the other molecules.
In online communities, individuals may feel they don't have that much influence, but one person making a decision may influence a much larger group.
There are lots of solutions to any given problem. We tend to assume there is one best solution, but - Herbert Simon - there are many solutions, depending on various factors, such as cost, for example.
Small world networks happen naturally. Watts again. It's a lot of individuals that are hooked together, and there are some hubs. This is the six degrees of separation concept. These networks are 'scale free' - they can grow essentially without limitation. They make resource sharing very effective.
If you look at online groups, because the membership is so high, there's a pretty good chance that people will have the resource that you want. It's basically 100% - if you have 100 people or more, if the resource exists, you can get it."