Interconnecting Groups of People

Organized online support is needed not just for interconnection within affiliated groups of people, but also for organizing interconnection between such groups. This describes how that would be useful, and how such support could be arranged.

The Purpose

Some groups of people gravitate for specific purposes. Many facilities have emerged which serve the purposes of coherently delineated groups, well: mailing lists, forums, wikis, blogs, etc. The advent of social networking serves the purposes of much more ad hoc connections between much more extensive, in-coherent groups of people. What is missing is ways to serve the needs of specific kinds of limited, organized interconnection between similar groups of people.

One simple example of this is organization of events for activity based communities. Consider contradance groups, who have regular local gathering in their respective towns. Occasionally, the groups have conclaves of interest to various groups throughout a region. Even more occasional national and international gatherings are of interest to groups across regions. Efforts to organize such events, and to disseminate information for registration and attendance, naturally go over lines that interconnect these groups. Conventional facilities for connecting the individual groups generally do not provide for such interconnections.

One crucial technical challenge is that different local instances of these similar groups may use groups facilities based on different technical platforms, and on combinations of platforms. One group may use Meetup, another Facebook groups, another Mailman mailing lists together with content management websites. A comprehensive solution would provide for maintaining info about the interconnections, and facilities for using that info from various platforms, including not just using the info for known groups, but also progressive discovery of groups and groupings in structured ways.

It's important to look a bit further at the reasons groups may want to interconnect, to see that they do not all fall into just one way of organizing the interconnections. In the above example, arranging gatherings across progressively more encompassing regions forms a clear cascading pattern.  What about cross-cutting affinities, like forums for teachers residing in different groups, or for discussing concerns specific to urban groups, or rural? Each kind of affinity might or might not have its own hierarchical structure, and regardless, that structure doesn't necessarily follow progressively expanding regional lines. Different reasons for interconnecting groups can need distinct organizations.

[Spherical Database Characteristics is a preliminary sketch of the mechanism I propose to address these requirements.  The rest of this document is brainstorming.]

Kinds of Groups

Physical-activity groups: people who gather in-person to practice something together, like outdoors clubs, sports and social leagues, grass-roots and civic organizations, technical and other special interest groups. As online resources extend the capabilities for collaboration across a distance, new ways of cooperating are emerging for work and play. For ongoing frequent virtual gatherings, some kind of coherent groupings - virtual "neighborhoods" - are still useful, and similar in consistency to extended neighborhoods for physical gatherings

Online Search is Not Enough

[Search implies pull by the event consumers. The other side of the equation - the ability for event producers to identify target audience in an extensive way, would be useful. I face this issue all the time in my contact improvisation involvement, for e.g. East Coast jam notifications to groups in the east coast region, or ci36 notifications to ci groups around the world. Federated maps organizing "crowd-sourced" claims of interconnections would provide for this.]

How Is This Different From Social Networking?

[Intermediate structure between purely local and global transitivity:

  • Google+: spherical organizations would provide for organizing specific connections between circles and in progressively expansive arrangements.
  • Facebook: spherical organizations would provide for explicitly expressing affinity groups and progressively expansive arrangements of interconnections between them, by consolidating individuals claims and characterizations of useful connections.
  • The web: spherical organizations would provide for seeing the connections between pages according to various contexts in which those pages are affiliated - the various contexts by which collections of people consider those pages to be gathered.


there is structure, here, to support

for these and other reasons, organized interconnection for coordination and collaboration across groups could be very useful. in order to be generally useful, some specific scaling requirements need to be met.

to provide for different regional scopes, including layering, and can vary not only by geography, eg:

  • all-stars vs regular tournaments
  • meetings between the message transport team and the task scheduling team
  • practitioner vs teacher trainings
  • technical vs user vs sales conference
  • grass-roots canvassers and neighborhood organizers and regional honchos
  • etc.

an approach

this all suggests an arrangement which provides:

protocol: platform be effective, the system needs to provide for interoperation across different platforms, because independence of various neighborhoods means that they will need to choose (have already chosen) their own platforms.policy: delegation of authorityaccess to the local scopes must arranged so that their representatives retain control - to moderate, disengage, etc. this means clearly identifying responsible parties and authorizations at all scopes.intricate: scope needs to be extensibly intricateextensible directories (organization objects) for registering and conveying interconnectionsa kind of containment index, for containment in elaboratible dimensions. to be comprehensively scalable, the directories need to be mutually cooperative, so they can be used in federation, like the domain name service, handle systems protocols and policies for interacting with the directorieswith appropriately tailored provisions for assigning and delegating authorization for access to the directory information and for interaction between directoriesfacilities for use on various platformswhich engage with the protocols to provide platform-tailored services based on the information conveyed by the directories.  eg, registration, calendar, search, and other plugins for various social networking and web content management system sites