"Count what is countable. Measure what is measureable. What is not measureable, make measureable." -- Galileo

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Community-Powered Plone

I came across an article in the May 9 ScienceNews that described, among other interesting things, decision-making in bee swarms. It occurs to me that the same thing may be going on in OSS as communities of developers and users attempt to agree on which new features to include in the next release, what "the best CMS" is, or reach some other collective decision.

The process is that a fairly small number of more experienced bees act as scouts. When they find a candidate location for a new hive, they return to the swarm and perform a dance that indicates the distance, direction, and perceived quality of the potential home. Based on the more enthusiastic dances, additional scouts sample the recommended locations. If they like a site, they too will communicate that to the hive. Amazingly, they usually attain a consensus within a day or two.
In the illustration above, location B (blue) is initially the hot place to be out of about seven candidates. But over a period of hours, location G (gold) appears and overtakes all the contenders. At that point the swarm heads off to their new digs.

Is this (or a high tech version of this) happening via the web? Are OSS advocates dancing their tails off, trying to convince the other scouts and eventually the entire swarm to follow their lead? It may be a plausible model.

Interestingly, if the bees can't reach a consensus, the swarm may split. Mambo/Joomla, anyone? Does this mean bees can have two different use-cases?

At any rate, from a Plone point of view, I urge the community to make sure to drop in on the Plone Evangelism forum, participate, spread the good word, dance your dance for the entire swarm, and change the world for the better.

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