Symbiosis is a mechanism that allows systems to adapt faster than if they were to rely on a strict evolutionary process to achieve the same internal augmentation. The calorie (energy) cost is scalable and depends on the type of symbiotic relationship.

Much of our software is symbiotic, today. It relies in a web of dependency on dependencies - small libraries that provide discrete functionality, where it doesn’t make sense to build that functionality internally. A lot of the internet’s infrastructure is accessible via web APIs that extend the utility of software systems. They increase flexibility and adaptability in exchange for an energy cost (translated into money, our poor abstraction of it).

The users of your software are doing so to extend a specific aspect of their individual or collective physiology, like I am using Are.na, here, as an artificial memory store. Or a team might use it to encourage a collaborative exploration of an idea or concept.

The role of the designer today is in the design of relationships and the study of symbiosis. It is a fundamental primitive.

The design of relationships in the study of symbiosis
Alex Singh
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