Flocking/Swarming is one of the most amazing natural phenomena and one we are only just beginning to understand. The behaviour has becoming hugely important in technological development and was one of the first areas of bio-mechanics/behaviour to be subject to major research and computer modelling. The modelling began to reveal the importance of collective intelligence and algorithms, most flocking for example is based on 3 simple rules...
1. Separation - avoid crowding neighbours (short range repulsion)
2. Alignment - steer towards average heading of neighbours
3. Cohesion - steer towards average position of neighbours (long range attraction)
Interestingly recent research has begun to reveal that even humans have, in some situations, an inbuilt flocking mechanism. A couple of years ago I spent 3 days curating an Art installation in Telford Shopping Centre, sitting and watching the way people move we began to detect rhythms to the way groups moved throughout the day. We remarked at the time that it resembled the rhythms of the sea, the ebbs and flows and currents, but also that we began to notice flocking/swarming behaviour.
Observing these behaviours begins to prompt significant questions about science - particularly challenging mechanistic understanding and the use of bio-modelling and algorithms in computing etc. about anthropology - our understanding of community and the individual. And about our understanding of the natural laws and order (how seemingly random and primitive behaviour is actually revealed to be highly organised and methodical (e.g. the forays of Ants in the Rainforest or the "waggle dance" communication of Honey Bees)
Anyway the reason I mention this is that there is currently a fascinating programme on BBC 1 on the phenomena, full of interesting information and incredible footage - It is available to watch on BBC iPlayer if you missed it (or can't get the BBC).
I'm convinced that as we observe intelligent behaviour, particularly collective intelligence/knowledge we will learn a significant amount about human relations/communities/networks. Just as we may have done much to damage our non-verbal communication by, for example masking our natural scents etc. we in the west may just have done catastrophic damage to the experience of being human by our obsession with the cult of individualism!
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