Friday, September 16, 2011

Collision of Ideas

It is not a coincidence that artistic and scientific creativity of the Renaissance took place in the most urbanized region of Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries. Creation happens from the combination of ideas and the cities of Northern Italy brought people together where they could exchange ideas and combine them in new and unique ways.

In Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson calls these types of situations “liquid networks” and describes how they widened the pool of minds that could come up with and share good ideas. “This is not the wisdom of the crowd,” he explains, “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.”

Creative groups have clustered together into geographically based networks for centuries, but the Internet has enabled people to exchange ideas unbounded by geographic limits.  Now people can connect with people who share their interests anywhere in the world. The result has been a tremendous acceleration of the pace of innovation.

Twitter is enabling the exchange of ideas at a face that is almost frentic. We learned during the east coast earthquake that news on Twitter moves faster than seismic waves. But the ideas that intermix on Twitter may shake things up more than an earthquake. Twitter is the fastest, most democratic idea distribution system that has ever existed. It also has a natural crowd based filtering system because people only retweet their favorite content.

Twitter has already been credited with bring down governments.  I believe we have only just begun to see the impact that it will have on the pace of innovation.

What networks do you use to exchange ideas?