Publish at January 20 2022 Updated January 28 2022

Do men know how to whisper...

... or do they prefer to percolate?



A poetic inspired French word for a collective movement of birds, seeming almost choreographed, is useful primarily for protection from predators. Like schools of fish, these life dynamics have been categorized by JF Noubel into the first category of collective intelligence : swarm collective intelligence. It is the work of large groups (ants, fish, birds, crowds) and individuality is little present.

The researcher distinguishes 3 other forms:

  • Original collective intelligence - manifested by small groups where the expression of individualities is prominent;

  • Pyramidal collective intelligence - which allows for the management of large groups of individuals with precise chains of command (bureaucracy, corporation) ;

  • and finally holomidal collective intelligence - expressed by a functioning in networks, i.e. large groups where individual expression is very present ( example: wikipedia)

As a living dynamic, is whispering specific to the animal world or is it reappearing in another form since the digital age?


and crowd movements are not new; in fact, it is a very powerful tool for manipulation. The herd instinct can be used to manipulate; two social psychology experiments illustrate this principle: the Asch and Milgram experiments.

Solomon Asch's experiment highlights the powerful tendency of social conformity; indeed, one may wonder if fashion movements are not based on this principle... Here, a demonstration of the principle's application in a waiting room:

At the same time, Stanley Milgram's experiment highlights the principle of submission to authority... and helps to explain inglorious movements in human history...

The experiment is here reenacted in the movie "I as in Icarus"

In his attempt to understand human violence and its connection to communication, Marshall Rosenberg - father of Nonviolent Communication - explains that violence comes through a specific language.

For example, during his trial, the Nazi criminal, Eischmann explains that it was not difficult for him to send thousands of people to their deaths... since bureaucratic language facilitates this. The "Amtssprache" or "bureaucratic language" in which the speaker takes no responsibility for his actions; any individual initiative is non-existent.

See this excerpt from 10:50

Behind this beauty of the murmuring of birds and schools of fish, there appears a fearsome principle that can lead humans to horror...

Can we as humans be content to simply reproduce the global movement without falling into horror...?

And the weak signals!

From a purely kinetic point of view,bird whispering has been modeled, it responds to two simple rules:

  • each bird responds to those around it (5 to 10 neighbors)
  • any individual can initiate the movement of the group

From the outside, the movement appears random while it responds to clear rules of operation

Knowing these rules, can this model be replicated on a human scale? Personally I tried with a group but we didn't succeed; it's not as obvious as it sounds!f

From a "paradigmatic" point of view, murmuring could be akin to large social or cultural changes.

I am thinking of the great periods of creativity that saw a connection between artistic movements and the development of quite consequential innovations: the Renaissance. To delve deeper, I highly recommend Marc Giget's vimeo channel "Innovation Tuesdays."

What these videos describe are particularly rich periods of creativity where technology and art seem to be almost in dialogue, for a profound cultural shift, a paradigm shift one might say. The appearance of writing must have followed the same principles of emergence...

The principle of percolation, described by Jean-Pierre Goux in his book the blue century seems to describe ( model) this phenomenon of great deep cultural change.

"The percolation is a concept in statistical physics that allows us to explain the emergence of completely new macroscopic properties from gradual evolutions at the microscopic scale. If, for example, you throw stones randomly into a shallow pond, they will initially be disjointed from each other. Then there will come a time when a threshold will be crossed and you will be able to walk across the pond, a new macroscopic property. In this case, the cluster formed by the stones is said to have "percolated."

What about our time, is the murmuring of the human race in a specific turn? Are we experiencing a profound cultural shift. To take up the words of JF Noubel in his TedX already mentioned above "what consciousness will inhabit us" in this new form of collective intelligence?

I will take two examples that I like to consider as indicators of trends, "weak signals":

  • The new ways of inhabiting the world with the expansion of bonifying, introspective and sustainable dwellings such as tiny houses or even kerterres .

    The word "kerterre" was formed by the Breton word "ker" which means "home" and the suffix "earth" , it is a frugal and luxurious construction technique designed by Evelyne Adam and thought for this "landless" generation as explained this trailer

  • So, appears a generation of precursors, looking for evolution towards frugal well-being. Look, for example, at this young explorer who methodically tests for 4 months autonomy on a boat!

Will these precursors, like little pebbles manage to percolate into a kind of Japanese garden? Personally, I like to think so...


Jean-François Noubel "The New Collective Intelligences" TedX Belford 2015

Marshall Rosenberg "Nonviolent Communication"

Asch's experiment:

Milgram's experiment:

Marc Giget, "Tuesdays of Innovation"

Jean-Pierre Goux 2018 The Blue Century Volume 1

Presentation of kerterres, channel 18h39

Arte's "four months in my biosphere"

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