"In this Era, openness wins"

What Kevin Kelly teaches us about the crowd

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In Kevin Kelly’s (aptly titled) “Out of Control”, he says…

“Under what conditions will cooperation emerge in a world of egoists without central authority?”

And then says…

“Perhaps the most useful lesson of coevolution for “wannabe” gods is that in coevolutionary worlds control and secrecy are counterproductive.”

And then says…

“In the Network Era—that age we have just entered—dense communication is creating artificial worlds ripe for emergent coevolution, spontaneous self-organization, and win-win cooperation. In this Era, openness wins, central control is lost, and stability is a state of perpetual almost-falling ensured by constant error.”

And he said that in 1995.

Future control is about soft power.

“Central control is lost”

You cannot demand a decentralized crowd into action due to old-world authority.

Authority is earned, and it’s built on trust.

Influence is not about demand, but instead, it’s about pull.


In business, the way we’ve been taught to think that who we hire, we own their time.

That we should take as much control and ownership as we can get.

But as we’re about to learn, this is the inverse of what the future is going to look like.

In the future, open coordination is what will generate abundance for yourself and others.

And centralized control will be futile.

So what does this mean for me, and mean for you?

Here is an example.

I’ve been thinking about monetizing a community.

I’ve been thinking about me leading this community, providing services and packages and…etc. etc. etc….

And I’m realizing that this is old-world thinking.

I’m thinking that *I* am the owner of this community.

Instead of thinking that WE are the owners of this community.

I can be a participant and guide to moving things forward, I can set up the structure, but the decisions do not all need to come from the top.

Everyone can own, share, and facilitate growth.

This is a crowd-based movement, and they should be involved, even if I help steward.

Today we can build things that self-perpetuate with or without us.

This is always been the goal of business, but the nature of our firms directed flows of power to the top, centralizing power to only a few.

Tomorrow we’ll learn that flows that spread outward capture more attention, gain more momentum, and create more robust institutions.

What Kevin Kelly teaches us is that in crowds, emergent behaviors exist.

These behaviors will be empowered by new tools that help crowds coordinate.

And with the new power of coordination, firms of the past are going to be fighting an uphill battle against decentralized crowds.

Like water, the crowd will maneuver around, chip away, and flow with its own gravity around centralized power and control.

So in the future, it pays to flow with the crowd… to coordinate and follow the course that is being set by the collective rather than the individual.

xx David

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