Disrupting Networks from Below
Edited by Tineke M. Egyedi and Donna C. Mehos
Chapter 2: Inverse Infrastructures and their Emergence at the Edge of Order and Chaos: An Analytic Framework
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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