Stigmergic Architecture | How we turned into ants by changing publishing platforms

We’re not sure if we’re going to send and article or ever a tracking of ideas vowed with multiple hastagging carried out while editorial board discuss the format of the next magazine issue.

Have you ever realized the way a colony of ants behave? This subtle mechanism known as stigmergy can also be useful to describe the way that publishing contents on architecture [and most other fields] are now generated, shared, changed, subverted, remixed and enhanced. An immense colony of brains are interacting by sharing and mixing through not so new platforms, with just discovered powerful potentials. We’re defining what the future magazines, books and encyclopedias will look like, we’re now drawing the outlines of next publishing systems. “Along this process, two shifts emerge: the virtual becomes the reality, and the personal subjective and disperse beliefs become onto a social and politically significant element” [1].

The change created by the overcrowding of ICT has been widely mentioned and in one way or another we have all experienced it, attending amazed at the vast possibilities it offers. We are still exploring the extent generated by the boom of social networks, P2P networks and other systems of exchange and collective work. We’re currently attending to a no-linear working system that somehow resembles the way that human mind works. Hence the easy deployment of these networks in the segments of population that has access to them. The huge development of mobile devices also facilitate mass diffusion of these networks to limits we hadn’t reached so far.

This situation is affecting all the technical and cultural events as did the advances of the Industrial Revolution in its day. In this sense, the way we communicate, learn and generate architecture also is being affected.


The study of swarm intelligence is providing insights that can help humans manage complex systems. Photo: Manuel Presti


Still from the film Al Pacino by Micro Audi Waves

Quantum Education

The way the mind learns and relates concepts is characterized by a non-linear structure in the same way that it shares content and relates many people through social networks like twitter, facebook or even while sharing music in spotify. By the fact of sharing a link or an article, this information is exponentially expanded by answers, sharings, RTs and recommendations. This behavior made us have the intuition that this is the way of education of the future!

Guided by this intuition and deeply influenced by Joseph Grima’s article [2] for the book Did Someone Say Participate?, we decided to make a test using a seemingly random combination of hashtags in twitter to structure this article. We have chosen three key words that in one way or another are part of our daily professional activities:

* Quantum
* Architecture
* Education

Final text is not originally connected, but the random combination showed up surprising results. All the following texts has been taken directly from twitter and on-line sources:

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Each firm envisions a future where the city is more interconnected, residential areas are denser, work is more flexible and there are more green spaces for recreation[3]. An invisible umbilical cord emerges connecting these areas. And you can separate them as much as you want. Then, if you vibrate one of them, somehow on the other end… knows that its partner is being jiggled.”[4]


Tweetdeck caption with the hashtags #quantum #architecture #education

Now, you must be wondering why we can predict physical events when they’re based off random collisions of imaginary particles. The answer is simple. In any given radius, every single possibility for an interaction is considered, and since uncertainty is larger the closer you are to something, more interactions occur when objects are close together.[5] If you spend any time around designers, you quickly discover this about them: They ask, and raise, a lot of questions. Often this is the starting point in the design process, and it can have a profound influence on everything that follows. Many of the designers I studied […] talked about the importance of asking “stupid questions”–the ones that challenge the existing realities and assumptions in a given industry or sector.[6] “We say they’re born engineers — they naturally want to solve problems — and we tend to educate it out of them.”[7]

The interaction between matter and light represents one of the most fundamental processes in physics. Whether a car that heats up like an oven in the summer due to the absorption of light quanta or solar cells that extract electricity from light or light-emitting diodes that convert electricity into light, we encounter the effects of these processes throughout our daily lives.[8] Despite its title, “Architecture of the Sun” touches only lightly on the connections between climate and architecture.[9] Nature And The Environment: The Child’s First Classroom.[10]


Caption of a search with the hashtag #quantum. Source hashtag.org


Tweetdeck caption with the hashtags #quantum #architecture #education

Researchers say they have devised a foolproof way to encrypt messages that can be unlocked only by a recipient physically located in a specific place, solving a problem that has vexed cryptographers for years.[11]
Classes shouldn’t be teacher-centered since schools aren’t built for teachers, they’re built for students.

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This last interaction of ideas show the way we’re learning through the connection of small pieces of knowledge. This approach to education generates a kind of black box which may be used by publishing industry as a valuable source of future on-line or paper publications. This also may be the “shape” education will have in the future: a random series of ideas ordered just by tags selected by each student. The school won’t necessary be located in a building, it could be a network of persons connected by content providers previously selected by the kind of information they share. Due to mobile devices, students may attend classes in a civic center, in their homes or from distant places.


From the exhibition Swarm Intelligence: Architectures of Multi-Agent Systems. Source New-Territories

Education will be guided by curiosity and genuine interests rather than pre-configured curricula, reaching a de-schooled society in the sense recommended by Ivan Illich. Experiences like Arduino Project, or the #Tweetpeli Project show us that rather than an utopia we are actually experiencing this phenomena, and if publishers [or even education policy-makers] have the ability to read and share this knowledge constructed by millions of humans just like ants build their colonies, a clear exercise of swarm intelligence, they may find the reason of their existence into this Aleph of permanent connection.

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This post is our proposal for the publication Networked Public:Publish // #netdomus

[1] Ramos Vitorino. The MC2 Project Machines of Collective Conscience
[2] In his work Did You Mean: Outsourcing, Joseph Grima present an article where all texts, except italicized additions by him, are taken from on-line sources directly.
[3] Architects unveil incredible plans for future of #LA – http://bit.ly/cVWhVM #architecture #design http://bit.ly/abPrAZ
[4] http://twitter.com/hashzeta/statuses/20168923462
[5] http://twitter.com/jacobfunk/statuses/20184128805
[6] http://twitter.com/dgomesbr/statuses/20221500110
[7] http://twitter.com/lilyykim/statuses/20222057050
[8] http://twitter.com/xeduarda/statuses/20148608594
[9] http://twitter.com/urbanbydesign/statuses/20221070215
[10] http://twitter.com/tipsforfree/statuses/20222417515
[11] http://twitter.com/cybfor/statuses/20252219118


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