The other day, I posted on a very interesting idea about the early history of technology. By “early history”, I refer to the last thirty years or so. The hope in this period was that technology would like to distributed power arrangements. As Steve Johnson wrote, peer to peer networking would replace hierarchical institutions. Well, lots of stuff has happened. But we have had Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and a few others. It looks more like a concentration of power than distributed power, n’est ce pas?
So why didn’t we get distributed power? I think it is because we are in the early days of figuring out how to use networks. In this setting, we fall back on what is offered to us rather than take the creative lead in developing new value added ideas. For this reason, I am rather fascinated by how we learn networking. Sadly, there is no “course” on this. We are on our own. And that, my friend, is the rub.
Csikszentmihalyi made the point in his book “Creativity“. One is not just creative on one’s own. To the contrary, creativity requires 3 interrelated factors. The first is a “domain”. Think of the domain as the field of application (whether it is physics, math, or painting). The domain gives the vocabulary for work. The second is a “field”. The field is composed of experts who are capable of using the vocabulary. The third is the individual. An individual is more or less creative in a domain as assessed by the field.
Wow! Sounds like what networks are supposed to do. In other words, networks populated by fields that are focused on a domain may or may not create the necessary conditions for individuals to become more creative. One problem. The web platform needs to provide the incentives, legitimacy and transactions that enable users to assess and use the value added that is created.