The Abundance of Memes
The Long Tail meme took quite a while for it to propagate through memespace. I don't know how long it took for the first spark of the idea to emerge in Chris Anderson's mind, to it being a popular modern economic idea, but it's safe to say it took close to years.
Like others, I suspect Chris Anderson's new meme, 'The Economics of Abundance', will take a lot less time to do the memetic rounds this time around. Not just because of the Long Tail's success - of course the exposure Chris has accrued with his bestseller will bode well for his next literary effort, and not just because the idea itself may have merit, but also because the context within these kinds of memes can spread has evolved significantly, even within the relatively short period of time it has taken for the Long Tail meme to travel from one mind to many minds.
Since the advent of the internet, indeed since humankind's ability to communicate verbally, the environment in which ideas and thoughts can be spread, circulated, discussed and evolve has changed dramatically for the better (from the meme's eye point of view at least) and is changing at an ever accelerating pace.
As we take each new technological step to speed up the rate at which we can communicate ideas, the rate at which the next technological step arrives and is almost universally accessible is itself accelerating. Our first great technological step in this direction was the invention of the Gutenberg press - it provided a massively more efficient way to share ideas. And from there, local newspapers then to international periodicals powered by Morse code, communicating stories and ideas to far reaching nodes of the world; from landline telephones to cellphones to text, then pictures and even video messaging; from letter writing and the postal networks, then fax machines to email and instant messaging; from bookwriting to desktop publishing to websites to blogs; from homevideos shared by foot and post to high resolution videos shared by clicks of buttons; the memetic efficiency of RSS and the great online social networks that are getting built out at a phenomenal rate - each of these technologies, and many others more, have created and are creating an ever more meme-friendly environment for which ideas can thrive. The environment for ideas to traverse from to mind to mind and from minds to networks of minds has never been so friction free, and still, this trend is set to continue at an ever more increasing rate.
Many of the memes that zip along the carriageways and networks of minds are to do with how to improve the environment of the sharing of ideas. This is self-referential magic at work. The exponential curves we experience in the progress of these communications technologies are set to continue. If there is the abundance of anything at all, it is surely the abundance in the numbers of opportunities that these memes have to spread amongst our networks of minds.
We are fast arriving at a critical evolutionary point of the memetic environment, if we have not done so already, where ideas that encourage yet further progress along the open communications paths will succeed speedily, and where those memes that attempt to stifle the propagation of ideas will be rapidly snuffed out. This truth, to me at least on this point, is abundantly clear.