Episode 2: What Do an Army of Ants and an Online Encyclopedia Have in Common?

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“Stigmergy is a mechanism of indirect coordination, through the environment, between agents or actions,” according to Wikipedia. “The principle is that the trace left in the environment by an action stimulates the performance of a next action, by the same or a different agent.” Wikipedia should know all about stigmergy, since it’s almost a perfect description of how Wikipedia itself is made. While this model of collaboration is most commonly associated with ants, not global knowledge sharing, we’ll explore both and how they’ve shaped our world through asynchronous collaboration.

Join us as we talk to Katherine Maher, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation (the nonprofit organization that runs Wikipedia), and Clint Penick, an ant researcher and assistant research professor in the Biomimicry Center at Arizona State University.


All original content in Plays Well with Others is available under a Creative Commons BY license. The show’s theme song was written and recorded by Graydon James of The Young Novelists and is licensed under CC BY-SA. This episode contains music by Blue Dot Sessions, available under CC BY-NC  at the Free Music Archive. We also use sounds from Freesound, which are available under various CC licenses and in the public domain.

Blue Dot Sessions tracks used in this episode (all available under CC BY-NC):

Freesound contributors behind the sounds we used in this episode:

Transcript of this episode