[iDC] Agency (was Re: THE ANTI WEB 2.0 MANIFESTO)

R Labossiere admin at klooj.net
Mon May 7 00:18:37 EDT 2007

Thanks Sam for the summary of David Bollier's paper, which is itself a summary of his notes from an Aspen Institute round table. I remember the buzz around "push" vs. "pull" models -- the ever finer articulation of consumer demand that becomes determinative of production -- but hadn't thought about it lately, esp. in relation to social networks.

More people creating more themselves and being more active in creative processes is a good thing, like education, lesbian moms and apple pie:) One problem, much discussed here and on other lists, is about effectiveness and exploitation; and that's where I'm thinking agency theory might be useful. 

What I'm interested in is the link between creation and reception, between creator and audience, where are a number of agent-like tasks:

a) contact and relationship building
b) presentation and promotion
c) value judgments
d) aggregation of responses, and 
e) publication of response results. 

Agency theory has, in my very limited understanding of it, arisen to resolve problems between principals and agents due to incomplete and asymetric information, inefficiencies that stifle effective representation. (Bernard Roddy pointed out that the theory is 'burdened' by the business context where these issues tend to have critical economic consequences, but I don't see that as a reason to discount the theoretical apparatus as such: an "agent" that fails to build good networks, misrepresents the work or improperly values it, or who doesn't appropriately provide feedback or celebrate success needs to held accountable, whether we're talking about Chrysler or MySpace:)

So the question that arises is whether in the p2p environment of the Web, agency is as efficient and effective as we tend to think it is.

Speaking strictly from personal experience, within relatively small networks like this one, I feel represented and, in terms of the esteemed audience who I hope have read this far down in this post, it seems quite efficient.

anyway, this is intended only to open discussion...

Sam's summary of Bollier's paper:
Bollier's original paper:
The principal-agent problem on Wikipedia

- Robert Labossiere
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