10 Million Flies Can Be Wrong

Followed the link to this Dave Snowden post from Johnnie Moore … on the face of it because “we” (in the sense Dave puts it) are recognising that the fragmentory (but interconnected) nature of blog-like technologies is much closer to “real human knowledge” than more formally structured forms. Also that “we” also therefore have a responsibility to manage the wider social transition just as any one form of media replaces another (written over oral, say) because the new disruption can appear (quite unnecessarily) threatening to the old … following on the reaction to Doris Lessing earlier.

So far so good. Even better though, Dave concludes with

Balance and memory have to go with progress and we need to start to challenge the assumption that whatever is the most popular is necessarily right, or for that matter sustainable.

This is two of my ongoing agenda items in one.

The democracy-needs-elitism imperative … a strictly popular vote is not the best arbiter of (real) value – which is an unpopular opinion to hold, but inescapable. (I need to find a better word than “elite” if I am to avoid offending those of a nervous disposition.)


The best memes are often the least attractive. Some memes are popular simply because they are easy to like / share / understand, not because they are good / right / true / valuable.

[Post Note : on re-reading, I see Dave’s post also includes a quote on the human “generational” nature of technological evolution (of knowledge) – I added my comment concerning my 3-Generations view of Kondratiev Waves or (Kuhnian) Techno-Economic-Paradigms. Small convergent world. Actually, there is a fourth connection here too … the teleological one … Dave’s post is entitled “The illusion that where we are is where we were meant to be”. Anthropic principles here we come.]

2 thoughts on “10 Million Flies Can Be Wrong”

  1. This is the same mistake everyone makes with any evolution. People come away thinking that it means the best stuff survives (memes or genes) but they should be thinking the worst stuff fails. It is not the fittest but the “fit enough” which survive.

  2. Thanks for the comment Tom. I tend to think in terms of the tendency of the “best fit”. That is as you say, anything “fit enough” will “survive”, but the best fit to the receptivity of the particular environment / niche will tend to dominate that environment / niche, whether it is in any sense absolutely the best or not. The environment is not one homogeneous thing however holistically / interconnectedly one thinks of it and furthermore the parts / niches are not conveniently isolated either.

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