If you’ve never listened to Radiolab from WNYC in New York, I urge you to do so. The topics are compelling, the production of each show is engaging and they only produce 5 per year so they leave you wanting more.
The episode from August 14, 2007 investigates the science of emergence or, simply put, where does organization come from? How can order come out of nothing? The group is more knowledgeable than any of its individuals. A simple, illustrative example is the guessing game involving a huge jar of jelly beans. No one person hardly ever guesses correctly. But the average of all the guesses of the entire group is almost always within a jelly bean or two of the correct number.
In the co-hosts’ analysis of how ant colonies function, their irreverent distillation of the science of emergence was, "How do so many…creatures with no boss add up to be so smart?"
This directly relates back to the "organization" of the internet. Who is responsible for popular search topics? Answer: everyone and no one. Error is architecture. Hundreds of local, unplanned decisions can add up to a mass movement. Consider this: you log on to search for a restaurant to try this weekend, but in your search you swerve and swerve until you find yourself on a site that gives tips on how to make your home more energy efficient. You’re not where you planned on going, but you’re not dissatisfied with your destination either.
Is this is how movements, neighborhoods and communities form? Are there no instructions? Or do they just come out of how the colony lives and behaves? What I DO know is: this is how Google has achieved primacy on the internet.