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What spreads, rarely sticks

The problems never stop. If they did, they would no longer be problems. They’d be solutions.

The good thing about solutions is that they’re typically social-proof and benefit from the network effect: What works for one person multiplies as commonality gets shared with the next.

The simplest form of information exchange is language. Words are memes. And memes can be rebranded and copy-pasted, completely overriding the origin. Even Dunkin’ Donuts made the word doughnut extinct.

Physical nature can also be maximized. The city, like an ant hill, is one big shared experience, a marketplace for swapping ideas. Residency, streets, bridges — all spawned from tiny cells into a collective pinnacle of innovation.

At the root of every solitary puzzle is a chance to do our best, to graduate from the individual to some type of collective high where the concept gets received and adopted.

The lone genius is a myth. Behind every wizard lies a team. No crowds, no celebrities.

Thinking, doing, and building all require form maintenance to ensure longevity. ‘Build it, and they will come is’ therefore a canard. A product’s existence depends on the strength of marketing and overall spreadability.

The Lindy effect says if a book is around a decade, it’ll last for another 50 years. Ideas and products are at the mercy of banter and eyeballs. Whatever gets shared sticks around.

When the crazy ones propose anything novel, they beg for neighborhood’s attention. It is the external reaction, the possibility of adoption that excites the misunderstood maker. That is, until the urge to recreate the system sparks blindness toward the facets worth keeping.

“We build our computer (systems) the way we build our cities: over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.” — Ellen Ullman

For better or worse, mass adoption is what triggers the desire to invent something new.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of Discvr.blog and four books.