In summer 2006 I was visiting an old friend in Ghana. There I encountered amazing examples of swarm creativity and self-organization entirely outside of the realm of the Internet. It already began when I was picked up at the airport of Accra by my friend and her husband. When we drove back to their house I noticed that the streets were filled with small vans of all types, ages, and makes, starting and stopping at odd locations, and picking up groups of people at every corner of the street. When I asked my friends about these vans, I learned that these minivans, called “Trotros”, were the public transportation system of Accra, providing fast, efficient, and cheap transportation in this city of 2 million inhabitants. The most amazing thing about the Trotros, though, is that each van is owned and managed by its driver, without central coordination.
More on later posts