This is not the wisdom of the crowd, but the wisdom of someone in the crowd. It’s not that the network itself is smart; it’s that the individuals get smarter because they’re connected to the network.
I think the Net generation is beginning to see knowledge in a way that is closer to the truth about knowledge. (…) Knowing looks less like capturing truths in books than engaging in never-settled networks of discussion and argument. (…) This new topology of knowledge reflects the topology of the Net. The Net (and especially the Web) is constructed quite literally out of links, each of which expresses some human interest. (…) And that’s the sense in which I think networked knowledge is more “natural.” (…)
To make a smart room — a knowledge network — you have to have just enough diversity. (…) There is no longer an imperative to squeeze the world into small, self-contained boxes. Hyperlinks remove the limitations that objectivity was invented to address.
Life is a whim of several billion cells to be you for a while.
— Groucho Marx
, American comedian and film star famed as a master of wit (1890-1977), The Essential Groucho: Writings By, for and about Groucho Marx, Penguin Books, 2008.
Coral reefs are sometimes called “the cities of the sea”, and part of the argument is that we need to take the metaphor seriously: the reef ecosystem is so innovative because it shares some defining characteristics with actual cities. These patterns of innovation and creativity are fractal: they reappear in recognizable form as you zoom in and out, from molecule to neuron to pixel to sidewalk. Whether you’re looking at original innovations of carbon-based life, or the explosion of news tools on the web, the same shapes keep turning up. (…)
When life gets creative, it has a tendency to gravitate toward certain recurring patterns, whether those patterns are self-organizing, or whether they are deliberately crafted by human agents.
It is the great irony of life that a mindless act repeated in sequence can only lead to greater depths of absurdity, while a mindless act performed in parallel by a swarm of individuals can, under the proper conditions, lead to all that we find interesting.
Look what is coming: Technology is stitching together all the minds of the living, wrapping the planet in a vibrating cloak of electronic nerves, entire continents of machines conversing with one another, the whole aggregation watching itself through a million cameras posted daily. How can this not stir that organ in us that is sensitive to something larger than ourselves?
It is not the amount of knowledge that makes a brain. It is not even the distribution of knowledge. It is the interconnectedness.