[Prospective] Sterling and Rheingold connections
Some kind of collective action...in which the individuals aren't consciously cooperating. A market is a great example as a mechanism for determining price based on demand. People aren't saying, "I'm contributing to the market," [they say they're] just selling something. But it adds up. (...) Google is based on the emergent choices of people who link. Nobody is really thinking, "I'm now contributing to Google's page rank." What they're thinking is, "This link is something my readers would really be interested in." They're making an individual judgment that, in the aggregate, turns out to be a pretty good indicator of what's the best source.
Then there's open source [software]. Steve Weber, a political economist at UC Berkeley, sees open source as an economic means of production that turns the free-rider problem to its advantage. All the people who use the resource but don't contribute to it just build up a larger user base. And if a very tiny percentage of them do anything at all -- like report a bug -- then those free riders suddenly become an asset.
The next stage is an object that does not exist yet. It needs a noun, so that we can think about it. We can call it a "Spime," which is a neologism for an imaginary object that is still speculative. (...) The most important thing to know about Spimes is that they are precisely located in space and time. They have histories. They are recorded, tracked, inventoried, and always associated with a story.(...) The people who make Spimes want you to do as much of the work for them as possible. They can data-mine your uses of the spime, and use that to improve their Spime and gain market share. This would have been called "customer relations management," in an earlier era, but in a Spime world, it's more intimate. It's collaborative, and better understood as something like open-source manufacturing. It's all about excellence. Passion. Integrity. Cross-disciplinary action. And volunteerism.
When you shop for Amazon, you're already adding value to everything you look at on an Amazon screen. You don't get paid for it, but your shopping is unpaid work for them. Imagine this blown to huge proportions and attached to all your physical possessions. Whenever you use a spime, you're rubbing up against everybody else who has that same kind of spime. A spime is a users group first, and a physical object second.
I thought there was a connection between the two: a new conception of how users cooperate to add value to a service.