This blog started as a group blog. True to its name, the editor relied on voluntary contributions initially. Soon he realised the hard way that research associates with project deadlines in their nightmares are not exactly the kind of people he can rely on for voluntary blog posts.
When being nice for a difference, pleadings, abuses, and even threats of physical harm failed to elicit contributions, he got us all together and designed a roster assigning each one of us a specific day in the week for a contribution. He apologised for it being a not so spontaneous order. But I would like to point out that it is very much so.
According to Hayek, the idea of spontaneous order is based on three social rules.
The first consists of those that we design ourselves. The second called “tacit knowledge”, consists of things like a sense of fair play-. Finally, there is a third group of rules of beneficial behaviour that we can observe and write down.
This is exactly what happened. We designed our roster to determine who would write on which date. We based it on the concept of the ‘socially acceptable ‘ principle of ‘one a week by each of the people’. The benefits are there to observe-the editor gets a post; I get him off my back!
Further I now have the flexibility to plan my activities accordingly, knowing that a contribution is due every Tuesday. By playing on the ‘ socially correct’ principle of everyone contributing equally, a sense of commitment is instilled. This also gives me the opportunity to trade and exchange days with someone else, which would contribute to my efficiency and give me flexibility, at the same time retaining my commitment and actually contributing. Thus we arrive at a fully functioning blog.
I have never had any doubts on how spontaneous order works to benefit us all. Humans are time and again able to ‘design’ institutions without in depth and complete knowledge, by purely acting on self-benefit. Just as in this case of a seemingly ‘not-so-spontaneous order’!
The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.