Chapter 12. Rethinking the Stack: New Narratives for an Era of Collective Intelligences

By David Crombie | Revathi Kollegala | Soenke Zehle

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Published: 19 Oct 2021

© 2021 David Crombie | Revathi Kollegala | Soenke Zehle


As holistic views of systems design gain ground, the question of how we might turn the “accidental megastructure” of existing infrastructure stacks into consciously designed collective intelligence architectures has emerged as a “matter of concern” for those engaged in designing cooperative and sharing economies.1 If we are aiming at a “technological sovereignty” facilitated by cooperative approaches rather than framed by the power planetary platforms, future ecosystems for products and services must be based on alternative technology stacks. And as planetary perspectives are beginning to frame more and more of what we do, the sustainability of such technological ecosystems comes into focus. That is why we want to enter the stack - and add stack design to the conversation around cooperative and sharing economies. While one goal of our research is to imagine a “collective intelligence design stack”, the focus of this essay is the why-and-how of such a use of the metaphor of the stack. And whether the stack is most useful as a mainly technological metaphor - or whether we should think instead about the stack as the conceptual schema of transformation narratives. What follows is an overview of the state of play around “stack design” in the anticipate collective intelligence design research network and the presentation of the network's first “collective intelligence design canvas”, a concept stack to facilitate a collaborative systems design conversation.