TED Curator Chris Anderson on Crowd Accelerated Innovation
Source: Wired Magazine
Free online video is creating new global communities—giving their members both the means and the motivation to step up their skills and broaden their imaginations.
So Crowd Accelerated Innovation isn’t new. In one sense, it’s the only kind of innovation there’s ever been. What is new is that the Internet—and specifically online video—has cranked it up to a spectacular degree. The way I see it, Crowd Accelerated Innovation requires three ingredients: a crowd, light, and desire. Let’s take each in turn. A crowd. A crowd is simply a community, any group of people with a shared interest. It can be narrow (unicycling, Greek archaeology) or broad (science, world peace), small (my village) or large (humanity). The community needs to contain at least a few people capable of innovation. But not everyone in the community need be. There are plenty of other necessary roles: The trend-spotter, who finds a promising innovation early. The evangelist, who passionately makes the case for idea X or person Y. The superspreader, who broadcasts innovations to a larger group. The skeptic, who keeps the conversation honest. General participants, who show up, comment honestly, and learn. Different people may occupy these various roles at different times, including that of innovator. Innovation is a response to a particular set of challenges or inspirations. Every mind is unique. Presented with the right fine-tuned pattern of incoming stimulation, I suspect, most people have a shot at coming up with something wonderfully new and fresh. But even if not, they can still play any of the other key roles. Light. All members of the community need to be visible; each needs to be aware of what others, particularly the most talented members, are up to. If the community is the university alumni association, the fact that one member has the world’s most breathtaking idea matters not if it never makes it into the annual newsletter. Nor is it any good to look out on a sea of faces in a sports stadium and think that you and your fellow fans will innovate together. Individual contributions have to be known so that they can be built upon. Visibility doesn’t have to mean literal face-to-face contact. Any form of connection may do the trick. Tweeting counts. But the nature of the visibility—the brightness of the light—will help determine how fast Crowd Accelerated Innovation can take place.