After a one hour walk with wood ants you’ll look very differently at things like co-creation and circularity. A super colony of these insects can be as big as a residential area and is composed entirely of material from local nature. In fact, they build without any form of control perfectly decentralized and co-controlled circular megacities.
What’s their secret and what can we learn from them?
Every individual counts
An important success factor is that each ant is free to do what she does best. They look out for food or drag building materials. Each ant continues its own way. So it can happen that one ant can discover a new food source that secures the future of the colony.
If there are enough wood ants using an alternate food source, the entire colony will start using it and ‘reconfigure’ the nests and trail structure. Many small individual actions make structural changes possible.
Twitter: The secret of the wood ants = transitionpower
Because each individual counts, there is a bigger chance that major discoveries are made. If you sum up all the ants and their individual choices you get a huge melting pot of opportunities. A decentralized innovation economy that responds dynamically to changes in the environment. That makes the colony vital.
The reaction of the colony as a whole at risk or new food sources is the result of these countless individual ad hoc actions. Without individual communications it would would not be possible to operate this system. Information about food and danger is directly passed from ant to ant.
Wood ants use organic materials from the immediate vicinity of their nest. With clever tricks they make the nest climate resistant and functional. If the environment changes, for example by threat or the discovery new food sources, they can break down their nest and rebuilt it somewhere else. And what remains of the old nest is returned to nature.
Multidome is an other word for a colony with more than one nest. In a large colony of several nests, the domes are connected by paths to one eachother. In the most vital colonies it would possible to remove a nest, without affecting the structure of the colony. They quickly build a new nest on the old place, or extend the network in a new direction.
Wood ants can do a lot of work. But even for ants a job can become to big. They help each other, by picking up a heavy loads together. They do this without terms and conditions, no questions asked.
Transition power through co-control
The wood ants do not collect knowledge, there is also no ‘managing’ant. Yet they manage always to find answers to major changes in their environment. Their strength is c0-control. Numerous individual actions that ensure structural changes. The lesson for our human world is that if people get enough space to develop individually, society gains transition power.