scaling up

Mar 27, 2015

I keep staring at this over and over the last few days.

And it's trying to tell me something.

I know from lots of different fields of experience and education how when things scale there are fundamental shifts. You might have a great idea for a business, for an artwork, for a product, for an organizational model, for a method...and it might work, and work well at certain scales...and then it becomes unworkable or even catastrophic at others. Scaling things up or down changes things, and trying to apply stuff that works at one scale to another scale at a 1:1 ratio is something that rarely ever works well.

While there is always a certain symmetry involved across scales, what we might consider certain fundamental mandelbrotian elements, the way the gears click and move as one scales up add different certainties and entropies into the works.

And it seems to me that on a civilization level we have yet truly confronted this in regards to the scaling up at a massive rate of the human population over such a short scale of time. Some segments of the population cling desperately to what has worked in the past - at smaller levels of human population and inter-connectivity - religions, political frameworks, economic structures, cultural mechanisms. And it seems to me that those things just simply cannot scale and the application of them to the current levels is utterly catastrophic.

There has been an utter lack of clear thinking about what this incredibly rapid scaling up by orders of magnitude of the sheer numbers of us means - in terms of danger and in terms of possibility.

I mean just look at that rise on that graph. Shit has utterly, fundamentally changed - and perhaps at a pace much faster then we can comprehend.

I think we have to seriously look at this and fast. There's a small space of opportunity, one that is rapidly closing, where we can try and understand the landscape that humanity is now sitting on.