Our theory of change is to build dense networks around people trying to tackle messy social ecological, economic and political challenges. To do this work we use a set of advanced technologies and methods for inducing and harnessing collective intelligence dynamics in online conversations.
Having a dense network around you is one of the hallmarks of social capital, and gives you access to expertise, resources, skill sharing and financing. In a dense network, there are many ways for you to get from one point to another. There are three challenges for building and making full use of such a network.
- Ability of people with aligned interests to find and connect with one another amongst the crowd.
- Accessing the knowledge and experience of others to get tangible benefits that incentivise continued engagement in the network (save time, money and energy or be enabled to do something that would otherwise not have been possible).
- Establishing a culture of open entrepreneurial collaboration to generate income and tangible impact on the ground.
From the perspective of a client or funder, the main challenge is how to unlock the capacity of individuals, groups and organisations to solve the issues that matter to them.
Edgeryders was designed to meet these needs. Our solutions do not start from scratch - they build on 7 years of work we have done on building the enabling science, methods and technologies.
Dense networks are not designed: they evolve.
- Start with “viable mutants”. We identify suitable initiatives that have achieved tangible initial progress. Many are already known to us through our extended networks.
- Provide conditions for expansion. We support efforts efforts to secure resources for a scaled-up deployment of each initiative.
- Speed up the rates of adaptation. We push initiatives out in the field early, encouraging prototyping and rapid learning. Knowledge sharing practices borrowed from open source hackers enable initiatives to imitate each other’s tactics, further speeding up adaptation.
- Promote niche discovery and colonization. Knowledge sharing institutions are a natural venue for initiatives to trade with each other. This promotes specialization into emerging niches in the ecosystem and enriches it.
- Enforce natural selection. Initiatives that fail to complete any step of the process are dropped. Initiatives are encouraged and supported to become self-supporting by the end of the process.
- The technology that supports this evolution is the Edgeryders stack : an online platform technology, community management and open source digital tools to enable meaningful, purpose oriented dialogue and distributed collaboration over the internet amongst groups of varying size, within as well as across organisational and geographic boundaries.
- Finally we document and disseminate the results widely , seeking to challenge the prevailing narrative of how successful business ventures and ecosystems are born and sustained.