At the recent iSociety seminar, Simon Roberts of Ideas Bazaar (from you can also download his "Linkship - Imagining a New Kinship of Networks" presentation slides) referred to a way of classifying relationships between self and other; others are divided into:

  • Consociates who share the same time and spatial access to each other's bodies
  • Contemporaries with whom one shares only the same time
  • Predecessors and Successors with whom one does not share the same time and to whose lived bodies one lacks access [Predecessors affect our actions, but are not affected by ours; Successors vice-versa]

Simon emailed me to tell me about Cultural Complexity, Studies in the Social Organization of Meaning by Ulf Hannerz, a book which had revived the classification from the philosopher Alfred Schutz (I took the earlier definitions from this page).

If we're to deliberately build successful environments for directed group activity, it's important to understand how existing ones do what they do. Part of that understanding is having a vocabulary, a framework to investigate.