the ol' either/or.
from the article "the power of us," a facile take on the effect of the network (short review: right idea, wrong lens), comes one of the dumbest things i've ever read in businessweek:
sound pretty threatening to anyone invested in the status quo? you bet. indeed, as the title of rheingold's book implies, there could be a dark side to this new cooperative force, especially if it results in mob rule. quite often, the best solution to a problem comes from the sudden flash of insight from a solitary genius such as charles darwin or albert einstein. it would be a tragedy if these folks, sometimes unpopular in their times, got lost in the cooperative crowds. Clearly, peer production has its limits. Almost certainly, it will never build railroads, grow wheat, run nuclear power plants, or write great novels.
ignoring for a moment the deep obviousness of that last statement, neither darwin nor einstein would ever have claimed to be operating in "solitary." they had this little thing backing them up, called "history," and this other little thing, "culture," both of which lent a bit of a helping hand. standing on the shoulders of giants, etc. etc.
and the idea that good ideas won't get heard or noticed because there are just too many of them — please. ideas are, in a very real sense, worth nothing; execution, that's the key. success or failure of that idea in the expanse of the world; that's what makes a great idea. and that success or failure loses nothing if we gain more space for ideas, more opportunity for people to participate in their creation; more will rise to the top, is all. good ideas beget new worlds beget more good ideas; that's the way we work. we play our part, we make our connections, the best and smartest of us make the best and smartest of of those connections, but we are never, ever acting in "solitary."
i guess it's no huge surprise businessweek's so bought into the great man theory, but you would think that the failure of the cult of the ceo over the last decade and a half would have at least given them a slightly wider perspective.