Wednesday, January 26, 2005

United States: Suffering from System Failure

Reading this post over on MyDD about how the world is switching from a U.S. centric, uni-polar world to a more decentralized multi-polar world (a post inspired by this article from The Financial Times), I am reminded of what, in the computer world, might be called star clusters and mesh clusters.

A star cluster is one in which primary communication channels are implemented through a central hub while a mesh cluster is one in which the nodes of the cluster can communicate with each other without any oversight from a central controller. A star cluster is easier to implement than a mesh cluster because the knowledge of what is going on in the cluster is centralized. But a mesh cluster has the advantage of the star cluster of not being dependent on the reliability of the central controller.

In the computer world, decisions on whether to go with one organization model of another are not always made rationally, in the sense that they are planned ahead of time. Often they just grow into whatever structure seems to work best. Changes in structure only occur when the existing structure's flaws become manifestly obvious (like when the President can no longer access his email). A change from a star cluster to a mesh cluster would typically only occur when it becomes clear that the central controller can no longer be trusted to fulfill its role in the organization.

America, under George W. Bush, has become an unreliable controller and that unreliability has become manifestly obvious to those who would otherwise prefer to not go through the pain of change.

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