Society Progresses When We Connect and Exchange

The crowd-sourced, wikinomic cloud is the new, new thing that all management consultants are now telling their clients to embrace. Yet the cloud is not a new thing at all. It has been the source of human invention all along. Human technological advancement depends not on individual intelligence but on collective idea sharing, and it has done so for tens of thousands of years. Human progress waxes and wanes according to how much people connect and exchange.

Those are the opening lines of Matt Ridley’s OpEd from this weekend’s Wall Street Journal. It is a nice synopsis of Ridley’s book, The Rational Optimist. It is one of the best books I have read in years and should be required reading for anyone interested in understanding how societies progress (or don’t).