Building upon the “Renaissance Networks” Meme

This is what I like best about the blogosphere and Web 2.0. The evolution of ideas.

Recently, Galrahn at Information Dissemination had an excellent post where he coined the term “Renaissance Networks” (he should trademark that one) where he argued, in part:

We think the concept of “Renaissance men” is evolving into “Renaissance networks”, they range from the generalists (like Matt and David), the interested citizens (you, being a politically active, informed citizen, in the case of this blog interested in military and specifically maritime strategy), and the larger network that extends to the specialists whom takes various forms like media and research, and who ultimately disseminate through various mediums including periodicals like Proceedings or even a Research organization like CSBA.

The point is, when one observes the evolution of social media networks, not only do we see a Think Tank 2.0 replacing the Think Tank in the future, we also see the development of a hierarchy of information dissemination from the generalists to the specialists for discussion, and back up to the generalists for broader information redistribution. This hierarchy is already well developed in politics, information technology, and entertainment, but the emergence of professional and topic centric blogs for the national security debate and foreign policymaking are slow in coming, but those blogs are emerging. It will take time for consensus to build among the “punditsphere” regarding who the professionals are, but we are already seeing movement on that as well.

That inspired my CTLab colleague Drew Conway to post up with “Points of Failure in the “Renaisance┬áNetwork” :

Knol fits in ID’s hierarchical model somewhere at the top; however, we must be cautious of the inherent faults of this system. For example, Knol uses a ranking system of five stars to give the audience an idea of a piece’s quality. Like other social media outlets (del.icio.us and digg.com), the rankings can be skewed by intentional manipulation (paid services to increased the number of bookmarks or ratings), or online mob behavior to push flavor-of-the-week pieces to the front page. More troubling, though, is the digital tunnel vision that social media construct. Cass Sunstein has been the loudest voice on this issue for several years, and in his Republic.com 2.0 he points out

…people should be exposed to materials that they would not have chosen in advance. Unplanned, unanticipated encounters are central to democracy itself. Such encounters often involve topics and points of view that people have not sought out and perhaps find quite irritating.

It is one thing to allow social media to find the “hottest” site at any given moment, but it is a different thing entirely to allow that same system to determine authoritative works.

In turn, fellow SWC member Dr. Marc Tyrell picked up the meme and ran with it with “Renaissance networks”: social media and reciprocity systems. This is a heavily linked post but here is one part:

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