Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ideavirus

In his book Unleashing The Ideavirus, Seth Godin writes :

Fact is, the first 100 years of our country’s history were about who could build the biggest, most efficient farm. And the second century focused on the race to build factories. Welcome to the third century, folks. The third century is about ideas.

Alas, nobody has a clue how to build a farm for ideas, or even a factory for ideas. We recognize that ideas are driving the economy, ideas are making people rich and most important, ideas are changing the world. Even though we’re clueless about how to best organize the production of ideas, one thing is clear: if you can get people to accept and embrace and adore and cherish your ideas, you win. You win financially, you gain power and you change the world in which we live.

He goes on to describe the viral nature of ideas and how to disseminate them to gain the most value. As wonderful as ideas might be, for a century to be fueled solely on them instead of more tangible things like farms and factories feel somewhat disconcerting. Is the modern world all vaporware that has no underlying substance ?

Also, all kinds of bad outcomes could result from "It seemed like a good idea at the time" type of "ideavirus". Since there can never be consensus on good versus bad ideas, things of questionable value could spread through our networked society very rapidly with potential to harm everyone that it touches. In this context the term "virus" is of particular interest because it's effects are almost always malefic.

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