1.5. The Concept of “Intentional Arrangement”

Intentional arrangement emphasizes explicit or implicit acts of organization by people, or by computational processes acting as proxies for, or as implementations of, human intentionality. Intentional arrangement is easiest to see in Organizing Systems created by individual people who can make all the necessary decisions about organizing their own resources. It is also easy to see in Organizing Systems created by institutions like libraries, museums, businesses, and governments where the responsibility and authority to organize is centralized and explicit in policies, laws, or regulations.

However, top-down intentionality is not always necessary to create an Organizing system. Organization can emerge over time via collective behavior in situations without central control when decisions made by individuals, each acting intentionally, create traces, records, or other information that accumulates over time. Organizing systems that use bottom-up rather than top-down mechanisms are sometimes called self-organizing, because they emerge from the aggregated interactions of actors with resources or with each other. Self-organizing systems can change their internal structure or their function in response to feedback or changed circumstances.

This definition is broad enough to include business and biological ecosystems, traffic patterns, and open-source software projects. Another good example of emergent organization involves path systems, where ...

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