What do Meta Networks Need?

(Continued from Basic Case for Meta Networks and Global Transformation)

Meta Networks are:

  • Decentralized networks of people, organizations and networks,
  • Bound together by shared goals, values, and experiences.

Meta networks are crucial for fixing global problems before they overwhelm us.

Meta networks need passionate, committed, and talented people, plus ideas, funding, and other resources.   But they also need methods and tools to make the individuals, organizations, and network as a whole more intelligent and effective.

Here are four types of methods and tools that meta networks need:

1.  Connecting people and organizations.

a.  Connecting people to people and organizations to obtain:

– Ideas, expertise and help (employees, partners, consultants, advisors, volunteers)

– Funding (investors, grants, donors)

– Inside Intelligence & Influence (related to potential customers, partners, investors, employees, and suppliers, and agencies, policy makers, communities, etc.)

Examples of tools:
Job, volunteer and consultant matching sites and databases; professional social network platforms for finding needed expertise and affiliations and obtaining trusted recommendations and referrals (e.g., LinkedIn).

Examples of methods:
Network weaving and social network analysis.

b. Connecting people to content
(to obtain news, ideas, opinions, research, experiences, knowledge)

Examples – Generic and specialized Internet search engines, content management and knowledge sharing applications and portals.

2. Sources for Reputation, Fact-checking, Due-Diligence.
(Supports other needs, e.g., connecting people, decision-making, etc.)

Examples:  Generic Internet search engines; professional social network platforms for checking professional experience and getting personally trusted insights and recommendations; reputation sites (most are not very mature yet).

3. Messaging campaigns to spread awareness and actions
(e.g., awareness and actions related to voting, contacting policy makers, talking to neighbors, donating, buying or boycotting)

Examples:  Social media sites and tools (Facebook, Twitter, messaging tools, etc.)

4. Collective Thinking and Action (big category!)

a)  Removing barriers to communication and collaboration.
(Dialogue, listening, finding common ground, consensus-building, conflict transformation, use of stories, symbols and rituals, collective consciousness effects)

b) Identifying, understanding and solving problems
(Collecting facts and perspectives from all relevant sources; Innovating (exploring/scanning/brainstorming); Integrating perspectives to reach consensus/decision on best strategies and tactics; Prediction; Deliberation and planning (evaluating ideas from different perspectives, consensus building); and Getting commitments for action.)

c) Collaborative Action – requiring complex coordination of actions by many people and organizations.

Examples of a, b, & c:   Online and in-person methods and tools for dialogue, deliberation, and collaboration.   For a partial list see NCDD’s Framework for Dialogue and Deliberation.

What is left out of this list?  Or what would you change?

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5 Responses to “What do Meta Networks Need?”


  1. 1 Ken Homer October 16, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Wonderful post. Thanks!

    As I read it over, the first two words of the first three points stand out as a point in an of themselves: Connecting People.

    In particular, connecting people to what they care about, to what they see as possible and to what constitutes effective collective action.

    It has been my experience that among people who share many of the same values and aspirations there is often a lack of ability to coordinate meaningful action due to a lack of establishing shared meaning and failure to explore a range of possibilities before attempting to move into action.

    A second item that comes to mind is triggered by the presence of “best practices” in the list. Best practices are always context specific and often in being copied they lose much of what made them “best” to begin with.

    I’d suggest that in meta-networks a more powerful approach would be to connect people to people who are capable of bringing marginal practices into new situations in order to stimulate innovation.

  2. 2 duncanwork October 17, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Thanks, Ken. Great points.

    I think you’re right that “Connecting people” is really one major type of tool or method, so I edited the post to reflect that. However, I kept two main sub-types: a) connecting people to people, and b) connecting people to content, because (though there is some overlap) those are often for different kinds of needs, and also often require very different kinds of tools.

    Re “best practices” losing value when copied. Yes, that’s bound to happen – but can of course be avoided by thinking carefully about what’s different. Simply copying a practice wholesale is usually a bad idea. In general people like to see how other people solved problems in order to simulate ideas for their own contexts, and also to find people they can actually talk to.

    Your point about connecting people for innovation around a particular problem or opportunity is very important. Meta networks are natural places to do that, and for achieving great results and then spreading them. In meta networks there are powerful shared goals plus concentrated expertise around particular groups of problems and goals. And there is also rich diversity of perspectives and experiences that is ripe for bringing together to come up with new solutions.

  3. 3 Duncan October 20, 2009 at 4:05 am

    5. Generating an accurate collective) picture of “what happened”

    Written history is plagued with spin. Meta networks will create footprints of perspective, generating and preserving the most accurate approximation of world events.

    Imagine that, honest media…

  4. 4 duncanwork October 20, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Yes! I sort of lumped this in with the 2nd type as “fact-checking and due-diligence.” But it is an area that deserves a lot of attention. Removing spin and bias is a very important function for meta networks that is to some degree happening, but largely fragmented into ‘authorities’ recognized by different perspectives. There are interesting ways to use meta networks to come up with more universal ‘authorities’, more immune to bias.


  1. 1 Meta Networks and Global Transformation – Basic Case « 100 Trillion Connections Trackback on October 15, 2009 at 8:21 pm

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