This section of the site covers the theory and background behind the application of stigmergy and other biological strategies to information technology

Summaries

Biological systems have evolved ingenious solutions to the same kind of problems encountered in information technology.

Understanding how nature solves these problems allows us to use these solutions ourselves, to create highly efficient Web sites that cost little to develop and maintain.

Stigmergy as a strategy

diagram

Stigmergy is not like a product, a service or an application. It isn't even like a computer program. It is a very clever strategy used by nature to get colonies of insects to self-organize, tell each other where to find food, create sophisticated messaging systems and build complex architectural structures.

We can use this same clever strategy on the Web, to get people to collaborate in the exchange and sharing of information. The strategy works well for brainless insects, but it works infinitely better for intelligent humans equipped with computers.

What are stigmergic systems?

Stigmergic systems combine information technology with stigmergy and other ingenious computing structures found in nature - to create self-organizing Web sites and low cost knowledge management systems.

Reproduction as a strategy

Nature has learned how to create organisms that grow and self-organize without planning. We can copy these methods to create Web based systems that grow and self-organize themselves, drastically reducing development and maintenance costs.

Nature creates organisms that can quickly adapt to changing conditions. We can build this same adaptability into information systems, enabling them to automatically adjust to user needs and responses. Nature has found a way to overcome the problem of critical mass. We can use this same strategy to make changes to a web site so that it increasingly attracts visitors.

What's the secret of nature's success? She uses a technique of continuous reproduction and selection. This is the technique we can copy.

We don't start by building a Web site, the first step is to create a program that can build a system. By arranging for this program to be responsive to the way users respond to a site, the program can continually rebuild the system until it is working successfully.

Short summaries of the main elements of stigmergic and biological strategies are provided in the menu 'Summary of a stigmergic system' (top left). More detailed explanations and theory can be found in the 'References' and 'Technical notes' sections of this site.

Current project

To provide a 'proof of concept' demonstration of a stigmergic system, the SEO project was started in October 2003. This aims to create a distributed, collaborative information source for people interested in the subject of 'Search Engine Optimization of a website'.

SEO project