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Thursday, June 04, 2009

bottom up/top down organization

I recently read "Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations " by Clay Shirky. It was a very refreshing book that made me feel like I got a bit of perspective on the changes we're encountering as we become more used to internet communications. He gave several examples of ways in which new things are possible in self organization with internet tools- basically, group forming and communication becomes easier, and because the technology to form these groups is essentially part of the web infrastructure, there is minimal cost associated with their formation.

As I've been thinking about jobs and where to go with my career, I've been seeing that there is a tension between the organizations that may want to hire me, and the connections I have and projects I can see to work on that cross organizational boundaries. I see the field of accelerator physics and how fragmented it is, and think that the internet could really facilitate some formation of commonality. At the same time, the reason the field exists is to build and operate accelerators that serve specific purposes or user communities. The building and running of such a facility is a rather expensive operation, and though there are new challenges for any project, many of the methods and technologies are already developed. So, from the facility perspective, a large amount of rather well-defined work needs to be done. This perhaps can only be done with the help of a more traditional top-down organization.

So I'm trying to understand how these two types of organization can work together- bottom up, spontaneous, informal, and multifacility on the one hand, and top-down single purpose, long term planned on the other hand.

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