Chris Anderson (TED Curator) has a great article at Wired on Crowd Accelerated Innovation. His focus is on the importance of video sharing on the internet, which is a great point, but I also really enjoyed his insights into communities and what makes them work (don’t miss the great graphic on collaborative circles as well).
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.
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.
Desire. Active learning is hard work. And in most cases, what drives all that work, whether we will admit it or not, is the prospect of recognition for what we’ve done.