Social Cognition, Artefacts, and Stigmergy revisited: Concepts of coordination

A number of different coordination concepts have been developed to explain how individual activities are coordinated on a social level, and the variety of concepts shows there is an interest in many domains to find such explanations. Stigmergy being one of them, has come to be increasingly applied on various kinds of human activities. In other domains we find other concepts for explaining how environmental resources contribute to work activities or how people use them to structure their work. This paper discusses different coordination concepts, including stigmergy, articulation work, coordination mechanisms, triggers, placeholders, and entry points. The first three concepts are explicitly concerned with coordination among several agents, while the last three instead concern individual activities, but arguably they can be extended to the social level. They also bring an explicitly cognitive dimension to coordination, which is not as salient in the former concepts. The concepts discussed here do have some similarities, but also important differences. They may not be interchangeable, but they could complement each other, or contribute to further elaboration of existing concepts. The stigmergic sign, e.g., could usefully be developed to recognise qualitative differences in its role as a coordination mechanism.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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