March 26th, 2013

It’s Not an Audition

Seth Godin:

We have no idea in advance who the great contributors are going to be. We know that there’s a huge cohort of people struggling outside the boundaries of the curated, selected few, but we don’t know who they are.

That means that the old systems, the ones where just a few people were anointed to be the chosen authors, chosen contributors, chosen musicians—that system left a lot of people out in the cold. The new open systems embrace waste. They understand that most people won’t contribute and most contributions won’t be any good. But that’s fine, because this openness means that the previously unfound star now gets found.

The curated business, then, will ultimately fail because it keeps missing this shoulder, this untapped group of talented, eager, hard-working people shut out by their deliberately closed ecosystem. Over time, the open systems use their embrace of waste to winnow out the masses and end up with a new elite, a self-selected group who demonstrate their talent and hard work and genius over time, not in an audition.

Go ahead and minimize these open systems at your own peril. Point to their negative outliers, inconsistency and errors, sure, but you can only do that if you willfully ignore the real power: some people, some of the time, are going to do amazing and generous work… If we’ll just give them access to tools and get out of their way.

And this is especially true in closed systems that have hard and fast measures around “quality.” As Tony Baldasaro points out, there is great genius in our children that our systems don’t explicitly value or account for. Now that our kids can share that value and connect around it without us, our inability to embrace and honor the work that doesn’t fit neatly into our box of curriculum will decrease our value moving forward even more.

  1. willrichardson posted this
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