This page is a Hub page, providing an overview of everything about Networked Agency in this wiki-section, with links and references leading away from it.
Networked Agency building blocks
This is my take on agency, which is a networked agency. I formulated it in 2016 as a way to express what unifies all my work, basically since I started working.
In our digital, globally networked and hence more complex age, we need a qualitatively different approach to agency.
This means embracing the affordances digitisation and networks give us.
This means designing our digital tools fully aligned with the core ideas behind interconnected networks (smart at the edges and within control of its users, can work alone yet (much better) locally or preferably globally connected).
This means taking complexity as a given, where experiences, probing, and responding to things play a key role.
This makes an individual including its meaningful relations to others, in a specific and real life context the relevant unit of agency.
This is networked agency.
Networked Agency, residing at the level of an individual plus its social context, I see consisting of three parts:
- Striking power. The ability to (collectively) act and create on your own accord. This is where low-threshold tools are important, as is knowledge of working methods and processes.
- Resilience. The ability to shield oneself against and mitigate negative consequences of other’s behaviour propagating through the network to you. This is where being able to work locally when disconnected is important, and temporarily suspending interdependencies. Next to early warning systems, and how to help put a brake on negative patterns you identify.
- Agility. The ability to leverage, adapt and respond to opportunities from other’s behaviour propagating through the network to you. This means sensing what is going on early, seeing what aligns with the interests and needs of the local network, how to use that for yourself, and how to feed attractive patterns with ones own contributions to help sustain them. (e.g. open source development).
Relevant blog postings:
- Agency Manifesto, a summary of my 2016 blog postings and manifesto
- On Agency Pt 1.: Embracing Distributedness to Increase Agency, on how tools need to be more aligned with the underlying network structures
- On Agency pt. 2: The Elements of Networked Agency, on the two qualitative differences with ‘regular’ agency: its relevant unit, and adding resilience and agility to striking power, as the former two are a consequence of the added social and networked layers
- On Agency Pt 3: Technology Needs for Increased Agency: Networked agency needs a combination of ‘hard’ (digital) technologies, and methods and processes that work well in a networked environment. This gives us both a design challenge and a design thinking aid.
As an example of a design aid, I created the image below:
Early 2017, in collaboration with the Frisian Library Service, we used the above to design a project with a primary school group, for them to design and create ‘solutions’ to things they wanted to change in their environment. The feedback was very positive, both from the participants, my project partners and the financing Dutch Royal Library. It turned into the basic working method of the Frisian Library Service, and we’re currently trying to extend that collaboration also with other local libraries in Europe.
At the June 2018 State of the Net conference in Trieste I gave a keynote on networked agency. A video, alongside my slides, is available.