Five hundred years ago, the printing press marked a rise in the power of the written word over human speech. Now, Chris Anderson thinks that web videos could reverse that change with some amazing benefits. Anderson is the head of TED, the popular global conference on technology, entertainment, and design. During his recent talk at TED 2010, Anderson described how web videos, epitomized in YouTube, allowed groups all around the globe to share ideas in ways that spurred creativity. This ‘crowd accelerated innovation’ is increasing in power as more and more people go online and as more of the web is dominated by video content. Already the fields of dance and extreme sports have seen web videos act as a crucial means of evaluating and inspiring communities of performers. Watch Anderson’s presentation in the video below to see some amazing examples of this phenomenon. What happens when this same accelerating push is brought to bear on teachers, scientists, and everyone else in the world?
We make a habit of examining exponential growth at Singularity Hub, and Anderson’s argument is that YouTube (and web videos in general) could bring exponential growth in innovation to every group that communicates online. The idea is simple enough – bring enough people with a common interest together and they will start to share and compete and improve. The bigger the crowd, the greater the chance of innovation, and the more people who witness and benefit from that innovation. The system feeds upon itself. Web videos are creating crowds in the millions and billions, and have the potential to create powerful feedback loops. In order to do so, Anderson believes that we must preserve open sharing, and points to TED’s own open distribution of videos (~7:03). Anderson’s vision for the future is painted in broad strokes, and it’s unclear what the benefits and limits of crowd-fueled creativity will be. Still, it’s hard to ignore that there is some potential building as billions of new people move online. He ends with an amazing look at a community in the Kibera slums of Kenya who are using web video and community organization to accelerate innovation and feed their families (~16:47). Very inspiring.
[screen capture and video credit: TED 2010]