2012 / Trend #2 / Small is the new Big

So here's the second installment of the 3-part trend series. The first one was about the rise of algorithms and how these mental process replicators are kicking us out of our own systems. This blog is about a second trend, a parallel one, but surely a more perceivable one.

1) Enter Tahrir Square :

Yes,you've seen it and heard about it. And you got to the point where you figured out that no, Twitter did not start the Egyptian revolution. Fed up people started the Egyptian revolution. Twitter merely helped a small bit of them, though a significant bit, organize and talk. But this is the tip of the iceberg. It's one big tip I agree, but a tip nonetheless.

2) Enter Yuri Milner :

Yuri Milner is a Russian investor who made a fortune investing in social networks and young companies (baby Facebook, Twitter and Zynga) by making them offers they couldn't refuse. Not in a godfather way of course. He's a very smart business man but nonetheless he has nothing to do with this article if not for this: Milner got it ! That's probably why he's making so much money (apart from the fact he had some to invest initially). Milner figured out that "everybody will be talking to everybody" pretty soon now. No boundaries. No constraints. As Pierre-Louis Desprez put it, the world is looking like this:

Imagine the world is a solution, a chemical one that is, and that we're molecules in that solution. The smaller the worldly recipient, the bigger the chances we collide. This is what has been happening. I'm no prophet here. Every book about globalization and new medias right from "the world is flat" to "Tribes" tackles this. But collisions are the first step to collaboration. Again, simply the tip of the iceberg. Here's my TEDx video about how small things meet to create big things :


Dee Hock described that triple P action : Purpose, People, Principles. The DIY trend I've tackled previously (1 and 2) is all about small things doing big stuff. Everything you've heard about collaboration, wisdom of the mass and emergence will be scaled up. Yes ! But the idea here is that out of quantitative change, qualitative change will emerge. Because these growing collisions in a smaller recipient, due to the way we function, will create new forms of organization.

3) Enter the ¨£µ%^ banks

You know financial issues are taking a new dimension when even a new scientist article talks about them. For as you might have heard, banks have been restricting credits. But this is a new world. A world very much like water : It finds a way out, sooner or later. Banks say no ? Ditch the banks. Ask fellow citizens for cash.

Yes : People lending to people. This is the future. Issues about individuals' ratings must be solved of course. But there is every reason to believe the phones in your hands, the data from your card and bank account can be computed by a very reliable, non-banking institution, and fed back to the new Peer to Peer lending system.

Cross this new trend with the growing #occupy movement and the 99% ... Exactly. There are no boundaries to what the small can do especially when the big is failing. But wait

Who's the big now anyways ? Right. There's this thing called Macropathy Rick Falkvinge : It is the disease of being too big, the sickness of being too large. The term was coined by Polish psychiatrist Andrzej Lobaczewski:

" Governing such a country creates its own unavoidable problems; giants suffer from what could be called permanent macropathy (giant sickness), since the principal authorities are far away from any individual or local matters. The main symptom is the proliferation of regulations required for administration; they may appear proper in the capital but are often meaningless in outlying districts or when applied to individual matters. Officials are forced to follow regulations blindly; the scope of using their human reason and differentiating real problems becomes very narrow indeed."

Laws are a form of algorithms. Algorithms are getting out of control. And laws, like these formal systems we create to replicate our mental processes and get the weight off our shoulders, become the blind spots of our institutions.

4) Enter the trauma

Institutions failed beautifully these last few years. And some surprises lie ahead I believe. And the idea here, if you look back at the three last points is this :

  1. Small is getting bigger
  2. Small is doing big stuff
  3. Big is failing
  4. ?

Well, 4) is about the fact that small won't forget it this time. Forgetfulness is key to history's iteration. But this time is too big to be forgotten.This time, small will remember. It has every reason to. This is as big as it gets and, heck, it's about to get bigger. A branch of economics called behavioral economics explains civilization's reaction to particular sets of events through collective memory of large events. The Germans fear inflationary measures because of the hyperinflation they wen through. The French still recall the French Revolution when they hit the streets. The US has this phobia of anything that might look like the great depression. Countries have learned to remember. That's why we won't have another Holocaust : Books, testimonies and movies make sure of that. And same here : We won't forget that Big failed us.

4. Small won't forget

So what ? So the final corner stone is in place. A massive (1) efficient (2) disillusioned (3) and un-forgetful/unforgiving (4)  crowd is up on its feet. It does not forget ! It does not forgive ! Expect it