Clay Shirky investigates the institutions of industry and the role complexity plays in a digital age.

The latest transmission from Clay Shirky investigates the institutions of industry and how the role of complexity plays in a digital age.

By nature, Shirky explains, traditional business models are stuck in a history of complexity, over consumption and culturalization. With brands and businesses striving to lead the often cursory charge on innovation, a lack of simplicity and humanity renders them inflexible and disconnected with a increasingly agile population.

“In 1988, Joseph Tainter wrote a chilling book called The Collapse of Complex Societies. Tainter looked at several societies that gradually arrived at a level of remarkable sophistication then suddenly collapsed: the Romans, the Lowlands Maya, the inhabitants of Chaco canyon. Every one of those groups had rich traditions, complex social structures, advanced technology, but despite their sophistication, they collapsed, impoverishing and scattering their citizens and leaving little but future archeological sites as evidence. of previous greatness. Tainter asked himself whether there was some explanation common to these sudden dissolutions. The answer he arrived at was that they hadn’t collapsed despite their cultural sophistication, they’d collapsed because of it.”

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