In this chapter, we describe 10 central properties and a speciation process for a certain type of real and virtual human collective that is comparable with animal colonies in nature. This theory, called colonial systems and its application to information systems-supported groups called information colonies, is based on those characteristics of mobile animal colonies that may contribute to the survivability of these formations under varied environmental circumstances. We propose that like animal colonies, human equivalents participate in group selection processes and thus have lineages. Like animal colonies, human colonies create offspring, which inherits their evolutionary history and evolutionary mechanism. We call this group-level evolutionary mechanism punctuated prototyping. In this chapter, we discuss human colonies from the following perspectives: phylogeny (evolutionary history); ontogeny (members’ lifetime histories); change; boundaries, complexity, structure, growth, goals, power, and control. We propose that the theory of human colonies provides a novel perspective on human collectives in real and virtual settings.
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