In my new years resolutions for 2014, I made a mention to the fact my bets are against hierarchy and traditional. And maybe there is a word which sums this up? The full thing was…

Live the life I choose
Its become clear to me that career and life progression is going to be less that ordinary for me. I’m going to have to carve my own path through life and that means working in an adhoc style sometimes and being true to myself. I won’t lie, life is pretty good right now. Although it may seem like I should be working towards things, I’m always reminded of the Cluetrain rule #7 – Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy. As I believe in the hyper-connected world we’re moving into. My bets are against hierarchy and traditional. Maybe there is a word which sums this up?

Well Davelab6 informs me, the word I maybe might be looking for is… Heterarchy… (from Wikipedia)

A heterarchy is a system of organization replete with overlap, multiplicity, mixed ascendancy, and/or divergent-but-coexistent patterns of relation. Definitions of the term vary among the disciplines: in social and information sciences, heterarchies are networks of elements in which each element shares the same “horizontal” position of power and authority, each playing a theoretically equal role. But in biological taxonomy, the requisite features of heterarchy involve, for example, a species sharing, with a species in a different family, a common ancestor which it does not share with members of its own family. This is theoretically possible under principles of “horizontal gene transfer.”

A heterarchy may be parallel to a hierarchy, subsumed to a hierarchy, or it may contain hierarchies; the two kinds of structure are not mutually exclusive. In fact, each level in a hierarchical system is composed of a potentially heterarchical group which contains its constituent elements.

Ok thats one heck load of information wrapped up in something quite profound. What does this mean in simpler terms? Lets say more practical terms…

Numerous observers in the information sciences have argued that heterarchical structure processes more information more effectively than hierarchical design. An example of the potential effectiveness of heterarchy would be the rapid growth of the heterarchical Wikipedia project in comparison with the failed growth of the Nupedia project.[3] Heterarchy increasingly trumps hierarchy as complexity and rate of change increase.

Now thats certainly something which makes a lot of sense/a way of life for me and I’m sure many others out there.

Thanks Dave for sending this my way, always nice to put a name or title to something you feel is important. Interestingly there is a link to a podcast from ITConversations. So may have to fire that one up and listen sometime…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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