Dunbar's Number

From Open Source Ecology
Jump to: navigation, search


What is a stable community size for Factor e Farm? Dunbar's Number comes into play.

Edward Miller writes:

I'm just wondering if your idea to choose 30 people was based on anything like this:

"A group of 3 is often unstable, with one person feeling left out, or else one person controlling the others by being the "split" vote. A group of 4 often devolves into two pairs... At 5 to 8 people, you can have a meeting where everyone can speak out about what the entire group is doing, and everyone feels highly empowered. However, at 9 to 12 people this begins to break down -- not enough "attention" is given to everyone and meetings risk becoming either too noisy, too boring, too long, or some combination thereof.

As you grow past 12 or so employees, you must start specializing and having departments and direct reports; however, you are not quite large enough for this to be efficient, and thus much employee time that you put toward management tasks is wasted. Only as you approach and pass 25 people does having simple departments and managers begin to work again...

I've already noted the next chasm when you go beyond 80 people, which I think is the point that Dunbar's Number actually marks for a non-survival oriented group. Even at this lower point, the noise level created by required socialization becomes an issue, and filtering becomes essential. As you approach 150 this begins to be unmanageable..."


found through here: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2008/12/dunbars-function.html

or was it just a more intuitive approximation. Science does seem to validate the efficiency of groups with 30 people. Good to know generally.

Response by Marcin

Actually, the number in Dream Team 30 is selected simply on the basis of available land. It takes about 1 acre to provide all the food, fuel, energy, and other resources for 100% autonomous living. This is just a general, safe figure.

The critique of Dunbar's Number is that it assumes people operating in the physical realm, and does not address spiritual evolution in the population. When the population is extremely spiritually/intuitively aware, the 'noise level required by socialization' is minimized, and in principle, the theoretical stable limit of population is unlimited. The cap is then determined by physical resource limits.

The first step is, therefore, demonstrating a technologically-advanced (with appropriate technology), autonomous community. Speculation on expanding resource limits is not as important at this point as is the implementation of a self-reliant, resilient physical infrastructure for a community. Since no-one to date has demonstrated a community like this in the Western world to date, that is the first task to accomplish.

Population Issues

This discussion eases gently into the very touchy discussion of population issues. Religious fundamentalists, eugenicists, infinite-growth sustainable consumption advocates, money changers, and many others have strong opinions on the topic. Our opinion is the following.

Open Source Ecology imposes a general stability limit as that number of people that can live and thrive on local resources from their immediate environment or from peer-based distant relationships, by using both wisdom and available technology to assist in this process. Anything above this limit results in resource conflicts, goepolitical compromise, and other forms of deprivation.