Saturday, December 06, 2014

Revolutions happen when no one is looking

Revolutions happen when a lot of people change their mind about something. For example while the internet was invented back in 1969, it wasn't classified as a revolution until a lot of people started using it in in the mid nineties.

But when Tim Berners Lee created the browser which finally brought the internet onto the mainstream, I don't think he woke up one day, and said to himself: I think I'm going to revolutionise the internet. Neither can I recall any mass protests or gathering exhorting people to take up the cause and adopt the one true way of the internet.

It all kind of just happened.

And that's how revolutions happen. They're not top-down with a small clique deciding it is time to do things in a certain way and then haranguing the populace to convert or else. They're more middle-out where a certain set of people adopt some ideas and the idea seeps out and reaches more people on its own merit. This is why a true revolution will always stick while a pseudo revolution will not. In a true revolution, people will genuinely be convinced of the usefulness or righteousness of something, and it will reach a critical mass which will then be a natural barrier against regression. A central figure trying to organise a revolution is generally a dead giveaway of a pseudo revolution. If it was truly a revolutionary idea, he wouldn't have to be trying so hard in the first place -the idea would spread regardless.

We see a lot of attempts at pseudo revolutions anyway. In the corporate space, these take the form of the jargon-de-jour which a few wise men in senior positions try to get everyone to agree to. But as said exercises prove over and over again, most such revolutions peter out as soon as the posters proclaiming them are taken down.

This is how evolution has always worked. Slowly. Creating changes in organisms as the environments demand, but taking its own sweet time to get there, letting the change seep thru civilizations rather then showing up on the doorstep one day with a circular that: henceforth humans will no longer live in the trees.

And so it goes. Gradually.


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