"To old-school progressives, the protesters appeared to be headless, out of control, a swarm of small causes with no organizing principle—and to a certain extent they’re right in their assessment. What they fail to recognize is that there can be power and intelligence in a swarm, and if you’re trying to do battle against a distributed network like global capitalism, you’re better off becoming a distributed network yourself."The quote was written about the Seattle anti-World Trade Organization protests but, as Johnson points out, could just as easily apply to the Occupy Wall Street protesters of today. The spirit of that quote, in many ways a closing thought and not the central thesis, came to dominate discussions and derivative thinking. It is clearly a sign of the times that distributed network organizations dominate the headlines while those based on hierarchies struggle to adapt (with the possible exception of China).
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Steven Johnson on the Wisdom of Swarms
Steven Johnson, author or a number of great, thought-provoking titles including 'Emergence' and 'Where Good Ideas Come From' has just released a new book titled, 'Future Perfect'. In a post about it on his blog he includes the following quote from 'Emergence',