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Feedback In The Babbling Brook Protocol

Feedback enables Babbling Brook to grow from people sharing content to a structured peer based society.

To fully understand feedback in the Babbling Brook network an understanding of both the protocol and the social theory is necessary.

There are several different forms of feedback that are designed to operate with Babbling Brook. Firstly we are going to look at how feedback works directly in the protocol, and then expand out from there to examine how it can influence the rest of our lives and society. Finally we will look at how feedback enables the value of goods exchanged via Babbling Brook can grow in value.

Feedback in the protocol

The theory overview details how emergent compelexity has a set of prerequisites: A set of systems that complexify through their interaction with each other via an organising principle in an environment. Part of the organising principle is a feedback mechanism, a process by which systems can change slowly in small steps.

Babbling Brook is designed to work in a way that facilitates emergent complexity. The organising principle is culture - people seeking out the information, things and relationships that they want. The entities that complexify are the streams, deltas, rhythms, rings, and kindred relationships. The environment is the Internet and human society in general. The root of the feedback mechanism lies in the users kindred relationships.

Every time a post is made and another user takes it, then their kindred rhythms processes the take. The rhythm takes the value of the take and uses that to create a connection between the user who made the post and themselves. It then uses this connection to change the users kindred relationship with the user who made the post. Once a kindred relationship has been changed, the posts that the user sees in their streams will be effected. For example, if the user made a positive take, then they will be more likely to see posts by the user who made the post that was taken. As the user is now seeing slightly different posts than they would have done if they did not make the take then there is a feedback of information that will then influence which post they will take next. If you keep taking posts of cute animals, then you will see more and more furry kittens and less blobfish.

Feedback in the protocol due to innovation

The kindred feedback processes, explained above, is largely automatic and although resulting from human activity is not the result of human ingenuity. It is our ability to innovate that makes humans stand apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, it is the main feedback process that enabled society to develop the rich complexity that it does. If Babbling Brook is to succeed at providing social structure then it needs to include an ability to adapt as human needs adapt. It does this through the bottom up nature of how streams, rhythms and rings are produced.

@todo human ingenuity and design blog post.

Users design streams and rhythms so that they can gain easy access to the posts the content that they want. The streams and rhythms are then spread through the network as other users start to use them when they are suggested to them. This then results in a changing landscape of posts being viewed by users, which then feeds back into the process as some users dislike the new results and once again adapt the streams and rhythms.

For example, a user likes science, so they create a stream to talk about it. After a while it becomes very popular, but the stream looses its focus and becomes filled with puns and jokes, so a new version of the science stream is created that only accepts posts from respected science media. Some users in the stream were using it to ask questions about science and they can't do this in the new stream so they create a new one called askscience. Askscience becomes popular and lots of lay opinion starts being posted rather than proper answers, so the creators make a new version that has a default ring that is used to tag authoritative users. This is great and works well, but still there are some users, who whilst they appreciate the need to answer science questions authoritatively, miss the opportunity to make educated guesses about how something might work and so they etc...

The example above was adopted from the process that led to the creation of the askreddit subreddit (as my poor memory remembers it.) It is a process that already happens on social networking websites. The difference with Babbling Brook is that these adaptations can happen much more quickly and without the need for trying to create moderation agreements on what a stream should be about, this is decided by the users, with rhythms and rings being used and adapted to filter the results.

Reddit does not yet have the opportunity for users to make educated guesses for fun. Personally I would love it, as long as they were clearly differentiated from authoritative answers. Reddit could do this through the creation of a new subreddit, which would then have to attract users through word of mouth. However, if Reddit utilised the Babbling Brook protocol, then there are several ways in which it could be achieved: There could be multiple child streams so that the user creating a comment can indicate if the answer is authoritative or a guess, a rhythm could then be used to filter them as needed. A separate stream could be created, which could be included in a science delta, but this would not have to rely only on word of mouth, it would be propagated through the users kindred relationships. Or a ring could be used so that any user can tag a response as authoritative or not.

The point of this very long winded example is that feedback in Babbling Brook is automated, yet still utilises human innovation. Creating a platform for rapid iteration and propagation of ideas.

How the protocol feedback informs real life social structure

The theory section explores how real life social structure can be seen as the result of the interaction of humans via three organising principles: interaction through our physicality, our ability to communicate and the exchange of resources. All of which interact in a feedback process powered by innovation that results in increasingly complex social structures. This section will explore how Babbling Brook can facilitate this process to enable a new form of social order.

At first glance Babbling Brook appears to be a communications technology, and the most important organising principle would seem to be about its ability to facilitate communication. This is important, but it is not the novel part of Babbling Brook. Babbling Brook is novel because it makes it possible to create a new method of exchanging value; it has the potential to replace money in the same way that money replaced book keeping in a controlled economy.

The Internet and social networking have been around for a while now, and there are lots of complex feedback loops that are changing the structure of society. From search engine results putting knowledge at our finger tips, to social networks putting us in touch with people we would never have met before. But these changes are mostly surface changes, they are not doing much to fundamentally change how we exchange resources. There are small changes such as: The private selling and giving of goods is easier than it ever was. Novel currencies such as Bitcoin. Buying things without leaving the house has expanded enormously. However, these are all still traditional free market economic activities. There has been no fundamental change, as there was when we transitioned from a control economy to a free-market one.

Most of the feedback loops inherent in current internet services are powered by the free market, and as such are subservient to it. Search engine results put knowledge in your hands, but also taints that knowledge in order to sell you something. Social Networks put you in touch with people, but your network is also mined and sold to make money from it. Your purchasing history is plundered to decide how much to charge you for the things you want.

The novelty in Babbling Brook is two fold. Firstly, it opens up the social networking feedback loop. It takes the power of the processes that decide who sees what away from a privileged few websites and makes it possible for anyone to change how they network with the Internet. In doing so, it makes it possible for ad hoc groups of people to truly self organise - with a structure of their own choosing - and this begins the second part of the feedback loop.

Once people start organising their information via their multidimensional relationships with other people, it becomes possible for people to start using some dimensions of those relationships to exchange resources as well as information. The more open ended and uncorralled the platform that the relationships are generated in, the wider the scope of the exchange can become. @todo use this somewhere :Two phrases can be used to sum up the aims of Babbling Brook: Structured data and Open feedback.

Exchange of value

Streams and rhythms can be defined so that only users who meet certain conditions are allowed to take them. This makes it possible to give resources to users who meet those criteria, and to receive in turn a reflection of this giving in the take value that was exchanged. A reflection that can in turn be used to get some resource at a later date. For example, a user might have a book that they want to give away, but they don't want to give it to anyone, they want to make sure that the person that they are giving it to is also contributing to their community. The person giving the book can attach a take rhythm to their post, which decides who is allowed to take it. A successful take indicates that someone wants the book, but it also represents that an item of value has been exchanged. Take values are not just binary (yes or no), they can hold a large positive or negative number, so the take value can represent the value of the book, and this value can vary depending on the kindred relationships between the users.

One of the aspects of the free market that make it particularly powerful is its ability to abstract the value of work so that it can be exchanged for any other type of work. However it does so at the expense of using a singular metric (money), whose base value can be controlled by the powerful. Babbling Brook enables the same facility to abstract the value of work, but it does so without a singular metric, instead every relationship has its own metric. Goods in the free market have an absolute value, but in Babbling Brook their value is partly determined by the relationship between the giver and the taker.

Babbling Brook could be thought of as a reputation network, where those with higher reputation are able to get more stuff, but Babbling Brook is more complex than that. Reputation in Babbling Brook is relative rather than absolute, meaning that you might be able to take a resource from one person for very little reputation, but require much more from another and not be able to obtain it from a third.

Another aspect of the way Babbling Brook enables the exchange of value is in how it ties the morals of work done to the value it is exchanged for, making it very hard to make value (money) from morally repugnant activities. This was talked about in more depth on the theory introduction page.

Wealth in this system is not measured via an absolute value in pounds or dollars, but by how much you can obtain today in comparison to yesterday. How much reach and influence a person has in society and by how stable your position is. This could all be reduced to a single metric if desired, but that metric would not be a form of money that could be transfered.

This topic will be explored in a lot more depth on the blog, links will be posted here as they are released. Topics will include: How the system builds up, intellectual property, social services, storing of value, commons resources, competition and cooperation, how the network both brings people together - yet prevents a melting pot, criminal justice, governance, media and much more.

What do you want to read next?
Read the blog
Read the theory introduction

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