"I here submit the concept of a multidimensional balance of human life which can serve as a framework for evaluating man's relation to his tools. In each of several dimensions of this balance it is possible to identify a natural scale. When an enterprise grows beyond a certain point on this scale, it first frustrates the end for which it was originally designed, and then rapidly becomes a threat to society itself. These scales must be identified and the
parameters of human endeavors within which human life remains viable must be explored.

Society can be destroyed when further growth of mass production renders the milieu hostile, when it extinguishes the free use of the natural abilities of society's members, when it isolates people from each other and locks them into a man-made shell, when it undermines the texture of community by promoting extreme social polarization and splintering specialization, or when cancerous acceleration enforces social change at a rate that rules out legal, cultural, and political precedents as formal guidelines to present behavior."

"To formulate a theory about a future society both very modern and not dominated by industry, it will be necessary to recognize natural scales and limits. "

Ivan Illich - "Tools for Conviviality" - http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/IllichTools.html




It is clear that growth through what I call "massification" is neither tenable nor effective, that its downsides increasingly outweigh its benefits.

It is also clear that we do live in a "massive" world in the sense that we have 7 billion people, on the planet, an "massive" complexity in the problems and decisions that face us. However, such complexity cannot be addressed by simply scaling up ("massifying") specific solutions. By definition, these are either not emergent or if they are, the emergent results are not reducible to the results when done at smaller scale.

We need to look at new models of growth that facilitate emergence but function primarily at "human" scales. One place to look for metaphors and models of such growth is nature. One example is the cell cycle - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_cycle. In the context of the growth of a human organism, an complex entity grows out of the iterative dividing of cells ....

What are the boundaries of the group/community?

What is the signal that it needs to split/replicate?

What are the signalling mechanisms that keep the subsequent groups in touch with each other?

Apply this to a specific context - say, technology adoption on a campus