Personal Blog of Joe Brewer

Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

Occupy Wall Street, Swarm Behavior & Self-Organized Criticality

In Complex Systems, Social Change, Wisdom of Crowds on October 15, 2011 at 3:46 am

If you’ve been watching the Occupy Wall Street protests these last few weeks, you may be surprised by how quickly it spread from a small group of disgruntled youth in New York to a planetary mobilization that is now active in more than 100 cities — all in a few short weeks.  This is an unprecedented ripple of change in local conversations, media coverage, global consciousness, and international solidarity.

My friend and fellow observer of global patterns, Timothy Rayner, describes the Occupy protests as a “swarm movement”, suggesting that we may be in the midsts of an unprecedented pattern of self-organization that wasn’t possible before the internet.  I am inclined to agree with his core thesis and want to suggest that we are observing what complexity researchers call self-organized criticality, defined in the following way: Continue reading “Occupy Wall Street, Swarm Behavior & Self-Organized Criticality” »