Stigmergy vs. Synergy

I learned a new word today, thanks to Jason Kottke and Wikipedia: stigmergy.

After reading the definition, it occurred to me that stigmergy is potentially the Web 2.0 equivalent of "synergy" - a term notoriously mis-used and abused by account directors and strategists everywhere. Synergy is not always good - it is a compounding of effects from two or more discrete influences. Think of the side-effects of cold medicine... take two or more kinds and the resultant synergy could prove fatal.

Since "synergy" has practically lost its meaning through mis-use (much in the same way "impact" is mis-used as a positive term - usually as the non-word "impactful"), I think "stigmergy" has promise. It affords a more realistic, organic approach to defining the nature a given relationship. That is, until chumps with poor language and communication skills butcher the term into meaninglessness.

1 comment:

Bendix Bubbles said...

Beautifully put. Recently, I had to endure a number of grindingly tortuous meetings with my local council's cultural stratergy department. The word 'synergy' popped up with toe-curling regularity alongside the phrases 'firm up', 'cover off', '...What have you sourced?' 'I have issues around...' etc. Horrible.