What does the author mean by "door culture" in this context? First-order effects I take to be a metaphor with economics. However, I don't understand how to translate my understanding of "first-order effects" meaning the first derivative of a formula to "door culture".

"The Tragedy of the Conversational Commons", by Clay Shirky

Flaming is one of a class of economic problems known as The Tragedy of the Commons. Briefly stated, the tragedy of the commons occurs when a group holds a resource, but each of the individual members has an incentive to overuse it. (The original essay used the illustration of shepherds with common pasture. The group as a whole has an incentive to maintain the long-term viability of the commons, but with each individual having an incentive to overgraze, to maximize the value they can extract from the communal resource.)

In the case of mailing lists (and, again, other shared conversational spaces), the commonly held resource is communal attention. The group as a whole has an incentive to keep the signal-to-noise ratio high and the conversation informative, even when contentious. Individual users, though, have an incentive to maximize expression of their point of view, as well as maximizing the amount of communal attention they receive. It is a deep curiosity of the human condition that people often find negative attention more satisfying than inattention, and the larger the group, the likelier someone is to act out to get that sort of attention.

However, proposed responses to flaming have consistently steered away from group-oriented solutions and towards personal ones. The logic of collective action, alluded to above, rendered these personal solutions largely ineffective. Meanwhile attempts at encoding social bargains weren't attempted because of the twin forces of door culture (a resistance to regarding social features as first-order effects) and a horror of censorship (maximizing individual freedom, even when it conflicts with group goals.)

  • Is it possible a word was omitted? open-door culture, closed-door culture and even revolving-door culture all make more sense here. – p.s.w.g Apr 30 '13 at 17:44
  • This article is also published in a book. The book matches the post here. According to the errata there are no errors. apress.com/9781590595008 – P.Brian.Mackey Apr 30 '13 at 17:47
  • Well I have never heard the term before, but the author was at least helpful enough to tell you what he referring to in the parentheses. – p.s.w.g Apr 30 '13 at 17:57
  • @p.s.w.g Based on my experience with such things, I would infer something close to “revolving door” – lots of user turnover, and pressure to filter or leave if you don't fit in. – Bradd Szonye Apr 30 '13 at 18:02

In the article itself, Shirky writes

And yet, when we poll users about what they actually do with their computers, some form of social interaction always tops the list -- conversation, collaboration, playing games, and so on. The practice of software design is shot through with computer-as-box assumptions, while our actual behavior is closer to computer-as-door, treating the device as an entrance to a social space.

Presumably this treatment of a computer as a door to shared space leads to “door culture”. However it’s not clear to me what the “social features” are and what they are first-order effects of. I’m not a sociologist.

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To be perfectly frank, it doesn't mean anything. "Open-door culture" and "revolving-door culture" both refer to specific phenomena but a basic "door culture" does not call up any meaning outside of the author's unique usage. If the meaning cannot be determined from the source material then I suggest chalking this up to opaque writing and either sending a letter to the author or writing it off as unknowable.

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