Archetypes for Protocol Outsiders and Bad Actors

Today’s event had me noodling on archetypes for outsiders and bad actors related to protocols. Here’s a first pass at some of them:

  • Refugees: exit a protocol that doesn’t work for them
  • Prisoners: suffer under a protocol that harms or underserves them
  • Reformers: work to improve a protocol
  • Yearners: want to engage with a protocol but lack the means or knowledge to access it
  • Warpers: work to extend or amend a protocol complexity for own benefit, due to their role as part of the protocol or their use of the protocol (e.g. regulatory capture)
  • Hackers: exploit protocol flaws for fun, profit, or protest
  • Gatekeepers and toll collectors: block or charge for access to protocols or steps of protocols
  • Mimics and touts: pretend to be key part of the protocol
  • Rivals: leverage protocol frustration to propose their own protocols
  • Tramplers: ignore protocols (or parts of protocols) because they have enough capital (social or financial) to avoid the downsides

What else belongs on the list?


Angela Walch’s research last year explored this phenomenon indirectly, especially protocol refugees

Classic example of work-to-rule as a protocol hack. Following a protocol too literally for it to function as an exploit. Demonstrates that real protocols require mindful attention to the spirit not just the letter, for it to actually work as intended. So by-the-book is kinda a bad-actor archetype. Like Jennifer Aniston character wearing minimum number of “pieces of flair” in Office Space and being held to task for it by manager (“hold to task” being a good actor archetypal behavior — meta norm enforcement — in that case, but for a bad protocol)

Modulators: entities that shape the dynamics and evolution of protocols by influencing their tempo, direction or intensity. If not specifically shaping protocols, “catalysts” might be a more suitable term (?)

Good call - here’s a slide from Angela’s talk - she even came up with names for the archetypes (not pictured)