News/Media / Science

Does Slime Mold Hold the Secrets to the Power of Social Media

Slime mold life cycle

“The origins of life is at the edge of order and chaos.” Dr. Joseph Cambry

First the butterfly theory of chaos, now slime mold?

Perhaps, the unexpected and inconspicuous slime mold explains connectivity in nature as well as in human nature as seen through the power of social media.

Dr. Joseph Cambry, President of the International Association for Analytical Psychology and faculty member at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, set the stage for enlightenment in the most unusual of circumstances while speaking on Self-Organization, Emergence, and Synchronicity in Analytical Psychology .

In an audience of scientists, the latest psychology advancements and theories were shared and exchanged in a room at the Swiss Embassy in Washington, D.C. that could only be described as a coffin with windows. On this brilliant summer day … a flash of recognition and understanding of the current global dynamic of social media became illuminated.

In politics, in business, in life – nothing is static, everything is in a constant stat of flux. In fact, a colleague at the White House once told me during a presidential campaign that was clearly failing, that

‘there is nothing more permanent than change itself.”

At the time with a career on the line this philosophical quote was not a comforting thought. However, it was the sagest advice anyone could share at any time in one’s life. Everything is constantly changing, impermanence is the constant.

So, why now? And really, slime mold?

How does slime mold hold the secrets to understanding the power of social media?

Slime mold self organizes from the bottom up. It is not directed to act in a certain way. It moves as it is attracted to another with no guidance, tradition, formation, expectation or predictable manner. Slime mold communicates, self organizes and then collaborates to reproduce and repeat its cycle of growth. It is complex and always a surprise. However, even these small single cell organisms and their seemingly random yet not organization would not exist without communication.

A slime mold experiment in Tokyo conducted by a Japanese and British research team revealed that slime mold acts with precision to connect with what they desire – in the case – oatmeal.  Oatmeal was placed in spots replicating major locations around Tokyo. Slime mold was introduced to each oatmeal spot and immediately a structure, formation, network began to be created. Slime mold at the various oatmeal spots began to connect – undirected. Larger channels were formed to distribute nutrients while smaller channels remained as part of the system. When the experiment was completed, researchers observed that the nutrient delivery network created by the slime mold replicated the map of the Tokyo subway system.

These single cell slime mold particles hold the secret and understanding of how the world dynamic is changing at this very moment.

“The origins of life is at the edge of order and chaos.” Dr. Joseph Cambry

Around the world, the countless examples are revealed of leaders clutching their positions, business models, traditions, social status and even the status quo in a death grip as they gaze in wonder or even mock change and social media.

As I have written before, social media circumvents complacent bureaucracies and bureaucrats. If people are not comfortable with being uncomfortable, they are at risk of becoming irrelevant.

As people are free to inform, associate, act, collaborate together – bonds are being created beyond traditional systems of order, national borders, social and economic boundaries, leadership structures, business models. In a way, slime mold is the communicator, the energy source behind system changes.

Imagine the most recent news,

  • technology entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, who re-created the entire business structure of how books are sold purchased the esteemed traditional mainstream newspaper the Washington Post, that was a thinning financially losing legacy newspaper that could not gain traction in this new world of technology and social media. Will this tech entrepreneur have the nimbleness to recreate a legacy news business into the digital age? ;
  • breaking news of global events from airplane crashes, natural disasters to war are circulating first and rapidly without restrictions by traditional media news cycles, political leanings or financial news models – traditional news models are struggling to remain relevant;
  • Wael Nawara, an Egyptian political writer with a large following on Twitter, is using the term ‘crowd democracy’ to describe the evolving political power and landscape in Egypt as the people seek the leadership they desire – despite the traditional global and domestic alliances that are proving irrelevant;
  • global campaign issues such as protecting cultural heritage are gaining larger platforms and more power as others realize similar challenges and benefits of creating alliances. Consider the Campaign for the Return of the Acropolis & Parthenon Sculptures – an international alliance of Greeks and non-Greeks is being formed even though this case for the return of the Acropolis sculptures is over 200 years old. The question will be can the UK withstand global public scrutiny of what allegedly appears to be a tolerated theft and destruction of a world monument by their then Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire;
  • museums, traditionally brick and mortar buildings of artifacts and experts, are learning that by engaging social media, they are garnering larger audiences and thereby, expanding their civic responsibility for public education. Explore the Nicholson Musuem in Sydney, Australia or the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, United States on Twitter. Each are innovative in they way they incorporate technology and social media to connect with a global audience with their exhibits and expertise; and,
  • digital diplomacy has replaced public diplomacy as business and political leaders are responding directly to constituents via Twitter and other social media channels. Insincere and irrelevant responses garner an ‘unfollow’ or public scrutiny – either way – not a constituent builder. Authentic responses are valued and appreciated and grow a constituent network beyond traditional borders. As an example, follow your favorite business and see how they respond to customer complaints. This transparency in business could be unsettling or liberating. If any political leader found congressional investigative hearings challenging, social media may be excruciating.

Social media represents a new dynamic at the nexus of order and chaos. Entrepreneurs knows this dynamic. Global campaigners know this dynamic. Even revolutionaries know this dynamic. The choice is how to respond. Technology combined with relevant valuable content is empowering and creating new alliances, new opportunities and power structures. People are awakening to the potential, options, choices and embracing them wholeheartedly.

Slime mold tells us that in nature unexpected alliances do occur and that we should not be surprised when we observe similar actions in human actions. In fact, we would save mental energy and resources if we integrated natural patterns of behavior into business, politics, life.

As Dr. Cambry said, “The origins of life is at the edge of order and chaos.”

Value the secrets of slime mold in the power of social media, expect the unexpected.

By Keri Douglas, writer/photographers, Washington, D.C. (Please follow 9 Muses News copyright use policy.)

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5 thoughts on “Does Slime Mold Hold the Secrets to the Power of Social Media

  1. Pingback: A Little Blue Bird Revolutionary – Twitter | 9 muses news

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