Human progress appears to come in waves. The first wave is bursty, lucky, easily stuck. The second wave comes more slowly, builds brick on brick, and eventually catches up the first wave. It's almost as though we're mapping out a landscape of inventions, and in the first rush from a good idea we miss valley passes into great new plains. The second exploration is more careful. This appears to be what's happening with the operating system: Windows is the first wave. Brilliant ideas, storming ahead, but its lack of foundation can be seen in the security holes, the bugs, the inconsistencies. Then Unix and derivatives slowly catch up, making each layer solid and immovable before setting down the next. It is the course of the second wave that determines future invention. Ditto electricity. Ditto many of the applications of science.
But what if the second wave refuses to learn from the first? We have to have a shared map, we have to have feedback, we have to have a way to share information. And I've a feeling that the ability to share information in a particular sphere is one of the most important factors of progress. So how to facilitate it in this new world, and in the social world, where we appear to be continuously going round in circles?