Today we in the west are so privileged and relatively wealthy that we can more or less do whatever we want to do. At no other point in history have so many been so free to explore and appreciate our planet. And while the ecological impact of this might be frightening, I am somewhat pacified by the fact that everything that is thinkable is now becoming possible in ever decreasing periods of time. I mainly put this down to the current trend for imaginative partnerships and collaborative thinking.
Since the early 1950’s corporations have invested in research based around an almost paranoiac sense of secrecy to protect their intellectual property. So much so, that even within their own research structures, knowledge between their own scientists was very rarely shared. A ‘successful’ scientific career was often measured by the number of white papers and patents an individual scientist published, rather than their possible application. The result of all this has been a much slower rate of change than could have been possible.
Last week I heard of a major breakthrough in the field of epigenomes. These are the amazing nano switches that turn human genomes on and off. It appears that their discovery could do more for the improvement of human health than the simple water closet did for people living in cities in the late 19th century.
Recent activities in Switzerland have also demonstrated the real benefits of collaborative research.The fact that when the CERN scientists got stuck with their unexplainable findings that Neutrinos seem to be travelling faster than the speed of light, they immediately reached out to the global scientific community for advice and feedback. Sharing whatever data was necessary.
Astronomers too are using the hundreds of thousands of amateurs around the world to help analyze data that would otherwise take a small group of university research scientist’s decades to wade through. The self centered, ego centric scientific research patterns of the past are now giving way to much healthier collaborative processes.
However, we humans are still far too slow to adapt on a local scale. Useful new technologies seem to take much longer to become the norm than one would imagine or expect. Too many of us still trying to fix our existing problems with the same old silo thinking that has proved largely in-effective for the last thirty years.
At long last, the use of web-based collaborative tools is really beginning to bring about a significant change in human behavior when it comes to knowledge sharing and transfer, the likes of which have never before been possible.
Have a good week,