power network

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A power network is a very large collection of social networks in which unequal power relationships are tolerated. Typically power networks are characteristic of a religion, industry, ideology or whole civilization.

Anarchists, trolls, and others who reject power-over tend to view such networks with a critical eye, but that does not mean that they do not exist among such dissenters. For instance a power network including many users of other GFDL corpus access providers might be formed in order specifically to defeat Wikipedia power structure or sysop vandalism itself.

More constructively, a world trolling anarchization has been proposed to anarchize trolls to make it impossible for any institution to form, while still performing all the functions that non-anarchists and non-trolls would do with a command hierarchy. Such an anarchization would of course be useful for more than trolling but it would be a power network too.

common examples[edit]

Simply put, "a power network is a type of contact network where its members can tell other people what to do." - [1]

A corporation or political party is an obvious example.

impact on corpus[edit]

Consider Common Content or the GFDL corpus as two good examples of situations where power networks participate and compete in an overt way:

Creative Commons acknowledges well known divisions of ideology by providing parametric license options like the CC-by-nc-sa for those who consider noncommercial activity inherently more trustworthy than commercial activity.

By contrast, at the more monolithic Wikipedia, troll-sysop struggle dominates most administrative discourse. By refusing to acknowledge what is obvious to all in a proper faction and tendency system, that people differ and never agree on a neutral point of view except by force, they perpetuate the reflection of politics as usual into the corpus itself.

Like any diverse group of people, Anarchopedia users have diverse commitments and relationships that prevent any simple agreement on how we, that is, all users would want to relate to them. Typically some kind of recognition of factions will evolve if there is a longstanding divergence of interests or ideological divide. This in turn may lead to factionally defined processes or factionally reviewed articles reflecting only their view, such as Wikipedia (troll view) or Anarchopedia (Wikipedia sysop view). This can only make things simpler.

power networks and licenses[edit]

The most common way power networks manifest in large public wikis is in license choices:

The type of license requirements that a power network might have to regulate the interactions between parts of itself, or to define what the group commits to public use, can vary widely. However they include at least the requirement to discipline those who work against the direct power interests of the group itself. Given that, this power can be arbitrary or it can be regulated, say via a parametric license that mandates only certain choices, or a guild license that might include nondisclosure agreement or non-compete agreement clauses. These would probably not be entirely mutual terms but would reflect the unequal power relationship in the context of the power network itself.

For example, the Green Party of Canada Living Platform Terms of Use explicitly delegates certain powers from the participant to the group: deciding how hard to work to validate attribution, using the compiled output commercially, and enforcing Share Alike terms on peers of the Party. These are appropriate powers to delegate given the nature of the Party as a network: it mediates for those who support it, and even for those who might criticize it, with other (peer) parties and the government bureaucracy that it seeks to control. Since the participant in any party or indeed any politics does not approach the system as a peer without a lot of allies, it is appropriate only to apply the Share Alike terms to the output of the party as a whole, not to each individual piece of input.

rights markets[edit]

Power network dynamics also play a role in the regulation of rights markets. A powerful group like film studios can only effectively be held to account by a strong network of allied professionals each of whom would have little or no power on their own. But when unionized or otherwise organized into a guild such as the Writers Guild of America it is possible to enforce nearly mutual terms even on big financial players - a collective agreement. The WGA and SAG negotiate directly with studios though no writer or actor could do so on their own - they'd simply be ignored and crushed under mounds of harassment claims by lawyers unconcerned with truth or even the fate of the industry.

thinking beyond 'free'[edit]

The naive beliefs which led to the Free Software ideal and the compromises that resulted in the diluted and degraded "open source" pitch are generally not applicable to serious power networks that exist to protect financial interests and the complex relations between professions in a complex industry. The circumstances where information will be widely shared, or even universally shared, are probably exceptions rather than rules.

Information may want to be free, but a lot of people want to wrap it up and charge for it, and a lot more want to keep quiet about what they know so as to trade on it better.

Share Alike[edit]

The Share Alike movement is a more general concept of which Free Software, Open Source, Open Content and Consortium Licenses are all examples. Unlike those SA makes no ideological assumptions and does not assume that the sharing must be to "everyone, for any purpose". It permits for instance restricting commercial use (via licenses like the CC-by-nc-sa).

To further extend the concept, Creative Commons is discussing other similar licenses like a science license, guild license, peace license, green license, any of which would restrict certain uses and purposes and deny access to users violating certain values or constraints.

Such licenses would permit power networks to form based on access to instructions or other information, based on values and conditions applied in the licenses alone.

what Anarchopedia can do[edit]

There are several things you can do to limit the power of any power network you encounter:

  • ask questions, share your questions, and share your answers, and share the answers you actually get back from "officials"

saving the GFDL corpus from power-crazed nimrods[edit]

Specifically, with respect to the GFDL corpus, you can:

Remember, the power network you defeat may be the one that is coming to hassle you later on. You want it as weak as you can make it.