Inverse Infrastructures
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Inverse Infrastructures

Disrupting Networks from Below

Edited by Tineke M. Egyedi and Donna C. Mehos

The notion of inverse infrastructures – that is, bottom-up, user-driven, self-organizing networks – gives us a fresh perspective on the omnipresent infrastructure systems that support our economy and structure our way of living. This fascinating book considers the emergence of inverse infrastructures as a new phenomenon that will have a vast impact on consumers, industry and policy. Using a wide range of theories, from institutional economics to complex adaptive systems, it explores the mechanisms and incentives for the rise of these alternatives to large-scale infrastructures and points to their potential disruptive effect on conventional markets and governance models.
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Chapter 2: Inverse Infrastructures and their Emergence at the Edge of Order and Chaos: An Analytic Framework

Jan van den Berg


Jan van den Berg INTRODUCTION As a result of the rise of Internet with its interactive, web 2.0-based communication capabilities, the ways in which people communicate have changed dramatically over the past fifteen years. Because of this and other developments, people exhibit a new type of behavior during working as well as leisure hours, constantly changing their roles within all kinds of real and virtual networks. Many people are nearly permanently ‘on line’, for planning and executing their work as well as performing free time activities. In this ‘open society’, the availability of so many communication facilities encourages the spontaneous organization of virtual communities (Wikipedia Online Communities 2011) in which participants work together in new ways in order to create something innovative. This includes the creation of infrastructures which – when their spontaneous emergence is user-driven, self-organized and controlled in a decentralized manner – are termed ‘inverse infrastructures’ (Egyedi et al. 2007, 2009). The term ‘inverse’ is used here to discriminate these forms from the centralized, top-down governance structures that are most commonly applied in establishing large-scale infrastructures. The attentive observer, looking for examples of inverse organization and creation, soon discovers many examples, for example, on the Internet where people organize themselves around general social network sites (Boyd and Ellison 2007) such as Myspace, Facebook and Hyves. In addition, business social network sites such as LinkedIn and Plaxo have become popular for entrepreneurs, small business owners, employees of larger firms and other professionals in order to build up gradually business-related networks that...

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