We live in a world that works well if the pieces are stable and have predictable effects on one another. We think of complex institutions and organizations as being like well-oiled machines that work reliably and almost serenely so long as their subordinate pieces perform their designated tasks. –2002 David Weinberger “Small pieces loosely joined” preface
This passage from Weinberg’s “Small pieces loosely joined” preface rubs me personally the wrong way. Our world is not predictable with stable pieces. And it would work awfully if it was.
This world is absolutely built on mistakes and cock-ups. It’s whole existence relies on the little things and big things that are inherently unstable and behave like drug addicts in a corn maze. There was never a time when all the pieces perfectly fit together. Your DNA is a fair example of this. Guess how evolution works? Mutations, mistakes in the genome, are the epitome of unpredictability. Working “well” equals to serene nothingness and we are in fact entirely based on some well timed “oops..” and poorly managed biological processes.
And any organization depicted working serenely and perfectly is an illusion their marketing department want’s to project. Burrowing from Sean Plott’s duck metaphor: Secretly the whole operation is like a duck. On the surface of the pond the majestic animal glides forward. Under the water one of the legs is broken and farts power the forward motion. If everything worked perfectly, there would be nothing new invented again.
The beauty of the web is the incompleteness of it. It is never ready, there are parts that don’t work, unnecessary things cluttering servers, and people work on these problems in complete lack of structure and with non-standardized backgrounds. And together they make a magnificent creature that is a picture of our world: a bit of oops…, some wow!, and a bunch of fumbling people. And to me the web is a platypus still evolving to new directions due to a bit of a cock-up someone made. Let’s embrace the failures and mistakes as they are at the core of learning and evolving.