Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Time in the desert

I just returned from a trip to the Northern Territory in Australia's outback where I had plenty of time to think about stigmergy. It will probably take a little time for my many thoughts to coalesce into something more articulate (I pondered a good deal on human stigmergy). In the mean time, there were many beautiful termite nests (above), and ant nests (below) to witness.

However I was there as part of an IBM sponsored program, SWIRL program run by Lawry Mahon (a living legend IMHO).

(left to right) Andrew Hocking - Corporate Community Relations Manager, IBM Australia, and Lawry Mahon - SWIRL Program Coordinator, Victoria University School of Education

We visited five different indigenous communities in which groups of student teachers were developing digital stories with young indigenous students.

My role was/is to help develop an online (stigmergic) collaborative environment for this course. Having run now for 11 years without hitch and with a great many success stories, I'm hoping this wonderful bunch of people and fantastic program will provide an excellent environment for exploring stigmergic collaboration across geographic, political and cultural borders.


At 7/19/2006 4:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


SWIRL project sounds amazing. Can you tell me more about the collaborative environment you designed for them?

At 7/19/2006 10:37 PM, Blogger Mark Elliott said...

At this stage it is very simple - basically a fairly intensely structured installation of TWiki. The architecture allows for blogging and member profiles, a group blog (for the groups of students working in specific communities), a knowledge base, a forum and photo gallery.

This year was really a bit of a pilot to test the viability of such a system, which ran parallel to the course and was completely voluntary. The pilot ran well and it looks like it will become integrated into course assessment next year - the key to a students heart and attention ;-). This means more development and expansion of the initial ideas and technology. However we will have to work out some considerable hardware issues regarding keeping the computers working throughout the year in the communities.

Does that give you a reasonable idea? I'd love to show you but for student security reasons, the site is password protected.

At 7/20/2006 4:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


After reading "Stigmergic Collaboration: the evolution of group work" last night I think we have a ton to talk about. Basically I will be taking your work and some others and looking more closely at Wikipedia for modes of stigmergic collaboration and the visualizations of them in history flow. you can email me at typewritermark@gmail (I am also a Mark) so we can talk in more detail about things.


At 7/20/2006 9:14 PM, Blogger Mark Elliott said...

You bet. Look forward to chatting!


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