Tuesday, August 05, 2008

How to adapt to survive the 21st century

I believe in evolution. That is, I believe in complex adaptive systems which use relatively simple rules to create immensely complex outcomes - such as the weather, the economy, ideas, messages, the internet, ourselves, and life on Earth. They do this by a process of iteration, selection and amplification.

I have discussed (The Perfect Storm: A Fourth Element) how I believe it is no coincidence that the fastest growing company in history (google) exists at the same time as the internet: two complex adaptive systems are coming together (the economy and the internet) to fan the flames.
We are looking ahead into a golden age. And you will be part of it; If you adapt to survive.

One outcome of evolution is that there are always casualties - things that get dampened out of existence rather than amplified to success. Don't be a diplodocus. (image shared via flickr by cpurrin1)

I have a handful of simple rules for success for individuals driven by the idea that in order to adapt to survive in any given environment the first and primary requisite is that you are living in that environment (told you these rules were simple...)

So I always suggest:

Write a blog: Discover how easy it is to be a publisher, how easy it is to create and share content, how easy it is to form groups of shared purpose in networks of trust, how easy it is to find relevant content and for relevant people to find you. More.

Build a widget: You have to start by trying to guess who might choose to share your widget or be enthused or impressed enough to pass it on - which raises a whole bag of questions. More. Discover not only that we are all publishers now, we all distributors, too - and all of us are advertisers.

To which I'll add:
Join a social network: Discover the easy-to-use tools that are making group-forming ubiquitous (more on why this is so critical here).

What tips do you have? What other advice for individuals and groups do you have to help them adapt to survive in the networked world as it comes to dominate the 21st century?


  1. Hi, I read your post with interest having studied AI at University many years ago. Complex adaptive systems back then were all about the law of "emergent functionality", which as you say boils down to small simple rules governing larger behaviors.

    As for joining a community, my tip following David's request would be if there isn't one on your radar - start your own. Ning is a good jumping off point to create a community (http://www.ning.com). I started my own for property investment in the UK at http://www.lovepropert.org, all because there wasn't a community around to fit my needs.

  2. an amazing about of wisdom in your archives ... the widget-making post with the understanding of the need to surrender control was exceptional

    for "survival" in the next/this era, there is one simple understanding to have ... this one ..

    .. it is possible to be more conscious, it is possible to have more awareness ... pursue that, everything else will line up ..

    no, actually you will see that everything is already lined up, just waiting for you..


  3. Love your insights gregory. And thank you again for the kind words.
    I think we're fumbling towards total consciousness that may have the happy byproduct of revealing a wiser way of being human.
    Living by Stowe Boyd's I am Made Greater By The Sum of My Connections - So Are My Connections is a step on the way, and one I can get my simple head round :-)



The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?