Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Social (and learning?) evolution in terms of TIMN

Found David Ronfeldt's blog via Spinuzzi's blog posting on one of his RAND papers.
"According to my review of history and theory, four forms of organization — and evidently only four — lie behind the governance and evolution of all societies across the ages:" Overview of social evolution (past, present, and future) in TIMN terms

TIMN stands for: Tribal, Institutional, Market and Network.

This is a compelling way to look at the evolution of society and wonder if it can be applied to medical teaching and learning too.

Tribal - apprentice and mentor within a particular practice

Institutional - traditional university / college teaching

Market - the open market for CME/CPD and courses

Network - courses such as the Postgraduate Diploma in Diabetes at Cardiff perhaps, Wenger's communities of practice living in digital habitats, CCK09 of course ...

My only anxiety is that evolution suggests a one-way and one correct way for a society to evolve. Working in a network with social equity, justice, information overload and rewarding connections but I'm sure there are times when the other forms of organistion would work better.


  1. Hi Dean
    I'm following CCK09 this year and explored a mashup of TIMN with Dave Snowden's Cynefin framework on my blog several months back. Besides the evolutionary model implied by TIMN as a progression, Ronfeldt is also proposing a migration from monoform to quadriform societies that would include all four forms. I'm seeing evidence in CCK09 of that in tribal cohesion among previous participants in CCK08, the institutional doctrine about connectivism in the chart that contrasts it with constructionism etc.,the marketplace for rival interpretations in the blogging and your concept map, as well as the networked hyperlinks in The Daily, course wiki, bookmarks, tweets and blog posts. All four TIMN forms are coexistent within the CCK09 context.

  2. Thanks Tom.

    I agree there are aspects of tribes, institutions, free market and network in the community that is CCK09. I find the TIMN a useful way of describing organisation. Not only does it expand the dimension of group <-> network that is being discussed in CCK09 but it also includes the characteristics of communication and heirarchy of the particular organisation.

    I suppose there are times where exploiting the advantages of certain forms of societal organisation can prove to be more effective at gathering or disseminating knowledge. An old teacher of mine said that the most important aspect of teaching was flexibility and exploring these (to me) new concepts is an excellent way of giving new perspectives (and choices).