The Internet’s Hoover Dam: Harnessing the Power of Collective Creativity

Clay Shirky makes a powerful point in his recent TED talk. He says our generation is experiencing “The largest increase in expressive capability in human history.” No one can argue that the force of this massive outpouring of creative expression is fueling radical change. The evidence of it is all around us.

This Sunday in the NYTimes, Rob Walker’s article about Quirky.com talks about collective creativity. Quirky.com is a site where members post and collaborate on product ideas. The goal is to hone a concept, bring it to market, and share proceeds among the inventor and collaborators.
What Shirky’s remarks and Quirky.com have in common is the idea that creativity can be harnessed as a collective force.

Our capability to collectivize our creative powers is not what fascinates me. It’s what’s driving us to do it. My last book RenGen argues that we are becoming collectively creative because we are in the process of creating a new culture. It’s a big job that requires many minds. These two authors point out that it’s happening. And it’s making all sorts of social and commercial innovations possible. These aren’t just hopeful signs, they are guideposts to the future. And they prove the point that the ways we live, work, and play–in essence our culture–is being re-organized around collaborative principles, not competitive ones.

I wonder. What kind of person will succeed in such a world? Who will be the dominant Alpha’s in the collaborative, creative new order?