Technologies of Cooperation

The product of smart mob technologies is cooperation, not horsepower or mind power. Inclined planes and nuclear reactors multiply the power of muscles. Intellectual technologies like mathematics and graphic user interfaces augment the capabilities of cognition. The power of mobile and pervasive communications derive from the ways people can use them to organize social groups in new ways.

Understanding human cooperation, from its evolutionary origins to its social dynamics, is key to understanding smart mobs. Sociologists have studied collective action dilemmas, ecologists have puzzled over "the tragedy of the commons," economists have used the Prisoner's Dilemma game to probe cooperative and competitive strategies. Cybersociologists, evolutionary biologists, social network analysts provide clues to the ways mobile communications, peer to peer methodologies, wireless Internet connections, and reputation systems make new levels of cooperation possible.